Olympics Report: Women’s Hockey Is Finnished

So women are playing hockey now, apparently. I know because I watched them do it at The Peaks on Tuesday. What will come next in the women’s movement? Why, soon they’ll be voting!

I had no idea what to expect from a women’s hockey game. Would there be hair-pulling slap-fights? Instead of going to the penalty box, would the players sit in the powder room and sulk? Would the ladies refuse to knock the puck into the net until someone put the seat down? How many gender-based stereotypes could I think of before the game started?

There was also the matter of which team to root for. I’ve never been to China or Finland, so I had no pre-existing favorite. I figured the Finnish women would be of Viking stock, with the horns and yellow braids and everything, and that sounded promising. But of course the Chinese gals might be able to fly, like in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and that would surely be an asset.

I settled on Finland, because I know people who have been there and they say it’s nice. Also, there was a Finnish family sitting next to me, and they were very adamant about the superiority of their nation’s team. I feared for my safety if I cheered for China.

The near-capacity crowd at The Peaks was in high spirits, having enjoyed a boisterous round of strip-searches and background checks. Every patron seemed to have chosen a team to root for, probably for reasons as arbitrary as mine. We were, as the kids say, pumped.

And the game began! I was impressed with how quickly I got bored. In all the excitement of going to the Olympics and being part of a historical event and being proud of my adopted homeland of Utah, I had forgotten I don’t like hockey. I appreciate the level of skill required to skate and not fall down, and how it takes a lot of physical stamina to play an entire game without throwing up. It’s just not a sport that interests me.

Surely there are others in my shoes, getting all giddy about the Olympics and buying tickets they don’t actually want. It’s a shame organizers don’t take stronger measures to prevent that. There should be a sign at SmithTix that says, “Please note: You don’t like hockey.”

Turns out the Fins slaughtered the Chinese, 4-0. (I knew my gals would pull through! Fin-LAND! Fin-LAND! Fin-LAND!) And in a stroke of good fortune, the entire game was played without anyone breaking a nail. As the women’s hockey team of Finland would say, “Näyttääkö minun takapuoli iso näissä housuissa?” (“Does my butt look big in these pants?”)

That's actual Finnish in the last paragraph. I called my friend Puppet Guy, who served his LDS mission in Finland, and he helped me out. I actually wanted to say "Do these pants make my butt look big?," but Puppet Guy couldn't remember how to create the verb "to make look." So I rearranged the sentence, and he was able to translate it. Thanks, Puppet Guy.

However, I then got an e-mail from another Finnish speaker saying it should be, "Näyttääkö minun takapuoli isolta näissä housuissa?,"? with an "-lta"? added to "iso."? I'll take his word for it.

Then I got an e-mail from an old friend I'd forgotten I had, who is actually FROM Finland, and thus speaks the language quite well. He gave me the translation of the sentence I originally wanted, "Do these pants make my butt look big?" "Saavatko nämä housut näyttämään takapuoleni isolta?"? I will consider him, a native speaker, to be the final authority on the matter.

(By the way: Several years later, as I review this commentary, I realize I have no idea who this friend was. For the life of me, I cannot think of anyone I've ever known that was from Finland, but apparently I knew such a person in February 2002.)

For those outside the Utah region, SmithTix is a chain of ticket outlets within the chain of Smith's supermarkets. It's like Ticketmaster or Telecharge.

And did I really have to BUY my ticket, as opposed to getting in for free? Yes, I bought it, but the Herald reimbursed me. The Olympics people only grant a certain number of press credentials for each outlet, and while the Herald got quite a few, we had to give them to the reporters who were, you know, actually DOING something.

I figured with all that rampant sexism and stereotyping, someone was bound to miss that I was joking and be offended. I was right. This was sent as a letter to the editor.

I read in today's edition, unfortunately, the article "Putting final touches on women's hockey" by Eric Snider and was totally offended by his remarks towards women and the sport of hockey. Evidently he is a small minded, discriminating little creep that doesn't appreciate either, the article should not have been printed because it just shows how unqualified he is to write about such a sport. He doesn't appreciate the hard work these WOMEN ATHLETES have had to endure to get to the Olympics, all he thinks about is how they are going to react, since they are women, with penalties. We really could have done without his remarks about how stupid he really is that he buys a ticket to an event he doesn't even understand and suggests that Smiths Tix should be mind readers because he is such a loser. I just hope that his viewpoint isn't supported by The Daily Herald, especially right now with the world athletes and visitors here. We should show our support to every country and every athlete. I am writing this to you rather than sending it straight to Eric because he is such a self absorbed little punk that he would think this is a compliment to his abilities as a writer, which brings me to say, that he is a discredit and embarrassment to all other reporters of your newspaper.
Mari Ruano-Luther
American Fork

I honestly suspect letters like this would be prevented if we started each column by saying, "This is a humor column. Eric doesn't know anything about anything. He's just making jokes."?

Two years later, thanks to the magic of the Internet, someone stumbled across this column and sent me this e-mail:
Hey [swear word], for your information women's hockey is alot different then what you think. I play hockey and I dont worry about breakin a nail, but after reading this I worry about breakin your face if I ever meet you. You say in your "remarks" [my comments are SO bad, they don't even deserve to be called "remarks"!] that you dont even like hockey, so how are you gonna sit here and write about women's hockey. Your just jealous that a woman can do something better then you can, and your the one worried about all that [swear word].
[swear word] you, I wish I could meet you and show you what this woman hockey player can do. [Is one of the things you can do shut up? 'Cause that would be awesome.]

go [swear word] yourself [swear word]!!! [Will do!]

Ah, the ladies. I do have a way with them.