Saturday, May 24, 2008

parenting rant: figure skating loses to hockey

Hooh boy. I take back every nasty thought I had about how I can't get my kid on the ice when I want her to be there.

Check out this article about the death of a figure skating program in Plymoth, Mich. The gist of it is that the rink makes way more off of hockey than figure skating, so figure skaters in this Michigan town will stop jumping and spinning at the end of the summer. The figure skating parents are using sexism to frame their argument to keep the figure skating ice time. In this Michigan town, as well as across the country, most hockey players are boys, most figure skaters are girls. Now this town won't let the girls on the ice.

Yeah. It makes my little ice time strife seem very small indeed.

There is a real issue for the rink to stay afloat, but the sexism issue is valid as well. If figure skating made tons of money, but hockey brought in very little, what would the discussion look like?

We encountered this same sort of debate back in the '70s with Title IX sports. The idea was that women should have the same nubmer of sporting opportunities as men in publicly funded educational settings. It occurs to me that the rink in this Michigan town is a publicly funded enterprise. I would think that the club would have a similar argument as women did in the '70s. The municipality has to offer the same opportunities to boys as well as girls. If I were a taxpayer in that town, I'd want to make sure my tax money supported a rink that offered opportunities to both sexes.

This guy blogged about it and he takes a spoils-to-the-victor approach. He dismisses the sexist argument and calls for a death match between the hockey players and the figure skating moms. Yeah, it's a funny image, but we're talking about denying taxpayers' kids access to the community rink.

Unfortunately, I don't think this Michigan town's ice woes are isolated and I'm very sad about it. Communities should work to support all sports and find ways to help struggling programs succeed instead of eliminating opportunities for girls.


Anonymous said...

I dont think its boys vs girls at all. Its the price that hockey teams pay for ice vs what is charged at a fs session.
We live in a huge hockey town. Hockey keeps the rinks going. Boys, Girls, mens and ladies leagues.They support our rinks enough to be able for the rinks to offer fs ice.The cost of running a rink is very high and will keep getting higher as long as fuel is high.
That is how it is most places, unless you live near a training center.

Jessim said...

If this happened at my rink- I wouldn't be a bit suprised. And while I would think it was ridicuously short sited (without LTS- where do up and coming hockey players learn to skate?) I agree with the notion that figure skaters aren't offering to pay what hockey players pay. However, I skate at a private rink. It exists to make money.

BUT at this particular rink- ridiculous. If it's tax payer supported it shouldn't just be used for hockey.

BTW- I wanted to say hi! I found your blog looking for people who have sewn skating dresses, and love your writing style. My skating journal is but it's mainly practice reports.

Anonymous said...

Great post.
I had to drop by my local rink (in the southeast) one afternoon during hockey stick & puck. After a little research, I discovered that hockey pays half of what figure skaters pay for ice time, plus, they got it at prime hours - 5-8pm.
I'm all for ice rinks making money, but a little cooperation between everyone (hockey & figure skating, multiple rink management and local figure skating clubs) would improve life for everyone. Not that I have an opinion! ;)
*I love your blog! Thanks, and keep it up!

Ice Mom said...

Thank you for your comments!

I think that the hockey v. figure skating showdown isn't a new one, but it's something that we'll be seeing more as money gets tight.

The question is: how will your rink respond to money pressures?

I think this is a heads-up for all of us.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is a figure skater at the Plymouth Cultural Center were they are planning to get rid of the learn-to-skate program. My daughter loves skating their before and after school because her middle school is right in front of the ice rink and the sessions are not as crowded as her home rink in Farmington Hills. We will be very sad if the program is lost. What most people don't realize is the the hockey program at the Plymouth Cultural Center gets most of it's team members from the Plymouth learn-to-skate program at the arena. Without the learn-to-skate program they will lose players and it will hurt the financial earnings of the arena. The arena is not losing money from the figure skating and learn-to-skate program. They are actually making money. They just want to make more money and they can get more money by renting the ice to other hockey teams and the home hockey club. The parents (hockey and figure skating)in the community have voiced they're outrage regarding the decision of the rink manager to drop the learn-to-skate program and have also contacted the ACLU regarding a sexual discrimination lawsuit. The community is working hard to keep the program alive but it is very difficult because many of the learn-to-skate coaches have started taking their skaters to other rinks. What is also sad is that their are 2 privately own rinks in Plymouth Mich. devoted only to hockey and another arena in Canton (Tanith Belbina and Ben Agosto were members last year) which combines their parks and recreation with our city that offers a strong hockey program and figure skating program. However these rinks are very expensive and you have to be a highly competitive figure skater or hockey play to skate at there rinks. This leaves the recrational skaters without a rink in our city.

Anonymous said...

The plymouth cultural center program is a taxpayer run program that is subsidized by the city. The rink manager asked the Skating Academy of Plymouth (rink figure skating club)to buy the ice time at the hockey club rate and run the learn-to-skate program without any support from the city. The manager also asked the club to take on the financial responsiblity of the anual ice show. The club agreed to take on the ice show but did not think it could take on the financial responsibility of the ice show and the learn-to-skate program. The rink manger said that the city would subsidize the learn-to-skate program for one year. The figure skating club wanted time to see how much they would gain or lose from the ice show before taking on the responsibility of the learn-to-skate program too. The rink manager then changed his mind and decided to cancel the learn-to-skate program this year.

Ice Mom said...

Thanks for your comments, Anony.

When I read what you wrote, my gut twisted a bit. My daughter is in the lower levels of figure skating. What would I do if my own programs/rinks disappeared?

What's sad is that the community isn't benefiting from the Learn to Skate program's closure.

I don't have any advice to give, Anony, but I wish you and your town's figure skaters luck and success in finding new ice.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the response to my post. My daughter and I are lucky because we are members of another arenas figure skating club and the Plymouth Cultural center is a rink we use for extra ice time. Therefore, my daughter has her home rink to skate at if the Plymouth Cultural Center discontinues their figure skating program. It's still sad however because my daughter was starting to make friends there and she really liked that the rink was not as crowded has her home club rink. We still skate at the Cultural Center when we can and I hope that the program will contine for at least one more season. My daughters in 8th grade next year so it will be nice to go to the Culuteral Center before and after school until she goes to high school.

Anonymous said...

I'm personally dealing with the hockey idiots, er i mean players. As the daughter, and not mom, I have experienced everything that you moms complain about... and really its worse than you might think. Maybe its better at your rink, but at my rink, Larson Ice Arena in Brookings SD, its hockey players vs. figure skaters. only its not kept quiet. My friends and I argue openly with hockey players almost weekly at the rink, or worse, at school. They call us 'toe pickers', and other names. But really, I would like to see THEM skate at our level with toe picks. And look at their ice, then ours. Ours is sooooooo much better. If you think about it they are indirectly complementing us by calling us 'toe pickers' for if we didn't then we wouldn't be jumping and doing high level jumps...
Maybe its better at your rink, but its not very good at mine...