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Coyne. Decker prove hockey is for everyone

Coyne, Decker prove hockey is for everyone

 Although the 2019 National Hockey League All Star game featured some of the best hockey players in the world, the stars of the weekend were the women who were the first to display their skill on the ice in what has been too long deemed a “man’s sport.”

After the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon was sidelined with an undisclosed injury, Olympian and National Women’s Hockey League star Kendall Coyne was chosen as the first woman to compete in the NHL All Stars Faster Skater Competition. Joining Coyne was fellow Olympian and NWHL star Brianna Decker, who would compete in the Premier Passer Competition.

Some hockey fans opposed the idea due to the different levels of physicality involved in each league. The idea that women do not have equal levels of physical performance is an antiquated idea and does not add anything to a debate that has continued on for years.

The fact that male and female hockey players cannot exist in the same league due to physicality is not the issue. Not allowing women to compete in the NHL is.

All Star Skills Competition recognizes their talents and, as Coyne and Decker proved, they are just as skilled as their male counterparts.

Both athletes held their own in their respective competitions. Coyne completed the speed challenge in 14.346 seconds, placing her seventh overall. Decker finished first, completing the passing challenge in 1:06. However, her time was not “officially” recorded by the NHL and she was denied the $25,000 first-place prize.

The snub caused an internet backlash in her favor. A #PayDecker campaign grew online, with many demanding that Decker not only receive the prize money she earned, but go down in the books as the winner, instead of runner up Leon Draisaitl, the “official” winner, who completed the challenge in 1:09. CCM, a hockey equipment company, reached out to Decker and gave her $25,000.

While the NHL has yet to recognize her as the winner, the support she has received from the hockey community speaks volumes. Not only does it show that there is a respect for skills — regardless of the player’s gender or league — but it also shows that when given the platform, women’s hockey can be just as entertaining, involve the same level of skill, and even compete with that of the NHL.

The support for Coyne and Decker has shown that there is room for women in this male-dominated platform, and women can and should be treated with equal levels of respect.

Although I doubt women and men will ever compete in the same league, the reception for Coyne and Decker is part of a more important conversation — women’s sports are just as competitive and deserve the same amount of recognition that male sports receive.

Category: Opinion