On the Edge: Women Making Hockey History; Too Many Men on the Ice; Women's Hockey in North America

Article excerpt


Reading On the Edge and Too Mary Men on the Ice was an odd experience in the aftermath of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano early this year. Both books, which champion the revival of women's hockey over the past two decades, giddily anticipate the first-ever Olympics to include women's hockey as an official medal sport. They speculate on the impact Olympic status will have on funding and women's participation in hockey, which, although experiencing record global growth, is still a fledgling sport. Both books, in this respect, are significant contributions to the slim historical archives of a game that is fast becoming a telling symbol of equality between the sexes, as women are finally making real headway in one of the most stubborn, traditionally male domains: the hockey rink.

On the Edge is a meticulously researched account of the history of the women's game in Canada, province by province (to the point of detailing how many people attended various games and tournaments in the 1920s and 30s). What is nice about this book is how effectively it illustrates that female role models do encourage girls to strive to become elite athletes themselves. The book begins with 11-year-old Hayley Wickenheiser watching the first official women's world hockey championship on TV; we later see the inspired player become a star on the national team.

The chapter " Media, Manon and Hockey Inc.," correctly takes the media to task for its treatment of the game, and Manon Rheaume's 15-minutes of fame as an NHL goalie. It also reveals something the regular media failed to latch onto: the invitation to pro hockey was a boon for Rheaume chiefly because it gave her the ice time and the coaching that is lacking in the underfunded women's leagues.

On the Edge outlines all of the longstanding obstacles to women's fair participation in hockey. However, it is written in a newspaper-style and is not consistently engaging. For example, the tussle for ice-time is raised dozens of times, but no context is offered regarding why there seems to be a shortage of ice in general, or whether anyone is doing anything about it. …