Misogyny and homophobia are alive, well, and thriving within the comment sections of sports publications.
I suppose it is my own ignorance and naiveté that have cultivated my discouragement and despondency.
In today's edition of the Montreal Gazette, columnist Stu Cowan published an article profiling the likely candidates for the Montreal Canadiens' General Manager position.
Among those being considered are two women. The first, Émilie Castonguay, is described by Mr. Cowan as:
[Joining] Momentum Hockey in 2014 and, two years later, became the first female NHLPA-certified agent in Canada. She has represented a half-dozen NHL players, including Alexis Lafrenière, the No. 1 overall pick by the New York Rangers at the 2020 NHL Draft. Gorton was GM of the Rangers when they drafted Lafrenière, so he has a connection with Castonguay, who played four years of NCAA Division 1 hockey at Niagara University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2009. She later earned a law degree from Université de Montréal.
The second is Danièle Sauvageau, whom I have had the pleasure of working with in my capacity as a producer at the French sports network, Réseau des Sports. Mr. Cowan profiles her in the article as well:
Sauvageau was head coach of the Canadian women’s team that won a gold medal at the 2001 world championship and again at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. She has also been GM and a coaching adviser with the national women’s team, involved in six Olympic Games and several world championships, and worked as an assistant coach with the QMJHL’s Montreal Juniors before co-founding the women’s hockey program at Université de Montréal. Sauvageau also worked 24 years as a police officer.
These two candidates' pedigrees and qualifications unquestionably justify their upcoming interviews with Canadiens' Executive Vice-President Jeff Gorton. They are also the types of success stories middle-aged cisgendered caucasian males like me refer to when I give my son and daughter examples of how gender norms are changing, and western culture is becoming more accepting of the varieties of lifestyles that share this planet.
Then I scrolled past the article's closing sentence, and continued to the comment section.
"So the two choices are a female GM to head the softest team overall for almost every one of the last 25 years or another journeyman plumber. Any choice besides Gorton himself is just going to be spinning the hamster wheel."
"Yeah Stu, let's hire a bunch of women to run the team. I bet you'd love that."
"As long as sissy boys are making the decisions, you are correct. A real man like Patrick Roy would never stand a chance."
"Female ? Like Stu, get a grip."
"In professional sports, a fiery competitor is a skill. The fact that you don't know that just tells me that you have more estrogen in your body than I do. Maybe it's time you stopped watching and commenting on hockey and start watching something more up your alley. Like figure skating."
The last comment, mentioning figure skating, is one I am very familiar with. I have been taunted with some homophobic version of it since I took up the sports at 7 years of age. I want to believe humans are progressing toward enlightenment. Sadly, in my unspoken conscience, I don't believe that is true. My peers are accepting and open-minded (or, at least, act the part in my presence), but internet anonymity has allowed to thrive these types of human detritus.
Sadder still is that many of these men (yes, I am assuming these sports bards are men) are fathers who share their brand of wisdom with their sons and daughters. These rancid nuggets of prejudiced thought are no doubt coupled with rain drops of off-colour jokes, and warnings - or even threats - about not being romantically (or even socially) involved with a person who is not a cisgender heterosexual. That perverted ideology then continues to be indoctrinated and passed to the next generation, and so on.
Tragically, so many children - cis, trans, and queer - are still receiving warnings from Mom and Dad that will prevent them from pursuing song, poetry, dance, drama, and any other myriad of passions. Their happiness is being squelched by their tyrannical Cro-Magnon parents who are determined to pervert this potentially inspirational human being into a racist, homophobic, anonymous commenter of my local sports section.