So, somebody named Lisi Monro has set up an on-line petition and Facebook page for people opposed to the idea of the Edmonton Oilers establishing a cheerleading team for home games at Rexall Place.
While I don’t really care one way or another if the Oilers trot out a bunch of keen sis-boom-ba types as 23 other NHL teams do — I find the idea marginally silly but largely harmless — there’s a minute group of people who are outraged enough by the idea of all that T and A on display at a hockey game they have put their names to the cause.
When I read the petition this morning, about 290 people had signed it, with many attaching comments. I’m assuming that, like any petition, this one represents a cross-section of people genuinely concerned with the issue, garden variety cause-seekers and kooks.
It was impossible not to see this coming when the Oilers announced the initiative a couple days ago, and I thought as much when Jason Gregor and I talked to team president Patrick LaForge on TEAM 1260 Thursday. "Gimme a K! Gimme an O! Gimme another O! Gimme a K! What does that spell! I said, What’s does that spell! I can’t hear you . . ."
Amused? Yes, I was. Offended? No. The beauty of living in a free country is that everybody has a right to speak their mind, have their say. In a free society, debate is open to all: the educated and the ignorant, the passionate and the perplexed, scholars and people wearing tin-foil hats.
That freedom, like hockey, is part of Canada’s very fabric.
Here’s a sampling of comments from people who have signed the petition. Names have been withheld to protect the ignorant, although grammar, spelling and imaginative use of capitalization has been left as-is for entertainment purposes.
— Keep Hockey Canadian – Ban Americanisms from OUR Game.
— Cheerleaders are stupid sluts, I want them gone and not anywhere near Hockey.
— think it is an insult to Canada, And Insult to Women, and an insult to the Game of hockey. Darry Katz should have the back of his head slapped for this stupid idea
— The only half time show Hockey needs is the zamboni
— This is a rediculous idea just like the downtown arena proposal .i love to see beautiful women at football games but hockey needs to be a rough game not sugar coated
— its only for the perv men to watch skimpy dressed women bouncing around, there are women there too!
— This is not necessary. This is completely sexist and has no place in hockey or in Edmonton. Can’t we just watch hockey?? Do we need women parading around in little clothing, degrading themselves and the entire gender. Where is the male cheer team? Oilers won’t degrade men. Yeah gotcha.
While Monro’s petition has garnered attention from several news outlets, I don’t imagine it will cause LaForge and the Oilers anything more than a ripple of aggravation.
I’m guessing that in coming days LaForge or another team spokesman will assure us the input of loyal fans (especially season ticket holders) on the issue will be taken into consideration (even if the tryouts are already scheduled and jazzy outfits have been mocked up).
I can’t help but think back to a couple years ago when it seemed everybody in the northern hemisphere got on board with a "Fire Craig MacTavish" cause on Facebook. So many people signed up that when a rally outside Rexall Place was announced, every news outlet in the city sent a reporter to get the dope.
When it actually came down to showing up outside the rink, for the MacT Lynch Mob to put actions to their names and words, media members outnumbered the half-dozen people who actually showed up.
I suspect this — even with the internet outrage, the "I’ll never buy seasons tickets again" and the "For God’s sake, think about the children" — will turn out much like that did.
It is our right, after all, to create much ado about nothing.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.