The Day That Men’s Sports Got It Right

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We’ve been inundated with bad news about men’s sports lately, from domestic-abusing football players to backside-protecting sports leaders. So imagine our surprise and pleasure yesterday when we read that the National Hockey League (NHL) did the right thing about a domestic-abuse accusation, and that a football player showed off his feminist credentials by decrying misogyny.

Unlike the National Football League (NFL), which had to wait for not one but two videos of player Ray Rice physically abusing his fiancée before it took strict action against him, the NHL acted immediately on Monday after a Sunday night incident in which Los Angeles Kings hockey player Slava Voynov was arrested on suspicion of having injured a woman who then needed emergency room attention. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suspended Voynov with pay, and Kings coach Darryl Sutter seconded the decision:

Absolutely, it’s very appropriate. Obviously, we have strong feelings about [domestic violence]. … Obviously the league has made a strong stand on it.

And obviously Voynov still gets to collect a paycheck while he’s under suspicion but not charged. Nonetheless, the suspension with pay hurts the Kings, because they cannot subtract Voynov’s salary from their financial “cap,” so their chances of being able to pay another player from the minor leagues is lessened. In other words, the Kings are supporting the NHL’s action even though it adversely affects the team. Imagine!

Our second men’s sports hero of the week is former NFL punter Chris Kluwe. We already heart Kluwe because of his strong stance in favor of LGBT rights and marriage equality. After being so outspoken, he was released by his team, the Minnesota Vikings, a firing he blamed on “two cowards and a bigot.”

Now he’s decided to speak out against misogyny in the video gaming community, in a piece for Medium yesterday entitled “Why #Gamergaters Piss Me the F**k Off.” #Gamergate, if you’re not familiar with it, is a hashtag that emerged after social media attacks on game developer Zoe Quinn and gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian, founder of the Feminist Frequency video series. The verbal attackers claim they’re just debating the ethics about the relationship between gaming press and game developers, but Quinn has been hacked, threatened with rape and murder and her personal information stolen, while Sarkeesian was sent death threats, culminating in her having to cancel a speaking engagement at Utah State University.

Kluwe, a gamer himself for 26 years, hardly makes nice when he’s pissed off. He’s crude and potty-mouthed, pulling no punches, but somehow his macho wordsmithing makes it even more remarkable that such a rough-and-tumble guy can be so sensitive to issues near and dear to feminist hearts. He points out to certain angry gamers that they “completely miss the point” when they are:

a) Making misogynistic threats against a wide variety of female game developers and critics because somehow they’re going to keep games you enjoy from ever being made again

or

b) Being stupid enough to get sucked in by people busy making misogynistic threats against a wide variety of female game developers and critics, and supporting their idiotic crusade for the dumbing down of everyone everywhere ever.

He adds:

When people — everyday people who watch the coverage on CNN of Anita Sarkeesian having to cancel a speaking engagement due to death threats — think of ‘gamers,’ they are going to think of you, and that irritates me. It enrages me. I want to punch down a wall, and I like my walls. They’re nicely painted.

Thank you, sportsmen, for being women’s allies yesterday. We hope you make it a habit every day, part of the training regimen for both sports and life.

Photo of Chris Kluwe punting, from Flickr user Freedom to Marry under license from Creative Commons 2.0

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Michele Kort is senior editor of Ms.

About

Michele Kort is senior editor of Ms. She is the author of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro and coeditor (with Audrey Bilger) of Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage.