In a July 2, 2014 public announcement, the San Jose Sharks announced auditions for a new, “co-ed, high-energy ice team that supports the San Jose Sharks…”
Many Sharks fans were outraged by the photograph that accompanied the announcement depicting two young women wearing cropped Sharks jerseys that exposed the models’ midriffs and by the stated requirements for audition applicants that included, “Physically fit/athletic appearance,” and an implication that applicants should look good in “form fitting [uniforms] with some skin exposure,” as referenced in the FAQ section.
Sharks management admits it anticipated community outrage
but went ahead with its plans anyway
In the days that followed the Ice Team Auditions announcement, scores of vocal fans contacted the Sharks directly to let the team know they opposed creation of the “Ice Girls” squad. Thousands of fans took to social media, including Twitter and fans even established a SayNoToSharksIceGirls page on Facebook. By July 16, 2014, the Facebook page had more than 800 “likes,” and Mr. Tortora, the Sharks Chief Operating Officer, was quoted in the San Jose Mercury News as stating the backlash was, “about what we expected.”
Local Press Coverage
Mark Purdy opposes creation of the Ice Girls squad and in a column on July 16, 2014, Mr. Purdy proposed a constructive, gender-neutral, alternative used at the Olympics in Sochi that would not alienate the community.
Coverage in The Hockey News
The Sharks Ice Girls controversy sparked Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News to pen a column concluding, “[I]t’s nice to see that fans of the franchise are standing up and saying that they like their hockey distraction-free.”
Igniting a Debate
Loyal Sharks fans deserve
honesty, accountability, and respect
Management Has Not Been
Mr. Tortora said, “Our first priority is finding people who can skate and do a good job of cleaning the ice,” but in reality the job requirements specifically state that the ability to skate is not required, unlike a “fit/athletic appearance” and looking good in a uniform with “skin exposure.”
Sharks Management Says
Ice Team is “tasteful”
Even after sending out the announcement with cropped topped jerseys and appearance requirements, Sharks COO John Tortora said the team planned to proceed with plans to develop the “Ice Team” “in a way that works for us within our game experience…” He further called the team’s approach, “tasteful.“
Ice Girls Aren’t “Progress”
John Tortora characterized the Ice Girls as “progress” for the fan experience at the Tank. “[W]e don’t want to be status quo, on or off the ice. If you’re status quo, you aren’t progressing.“
Women Are More Than 1/3 Of NHL Fans
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