By Mitch Calvert, Staff writer
Who says politics and hockey don’t mix?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months, you would know that U.S. Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin—a self-described hockey mom—has been making regular references to the aforementioned “hockey mom” phrase, looking for an emotional appeal to that voting demographic of the American public.
In its narrowest sense, Palin can claim a close connection to the mothers of America’s hockey-playing youth, having five children of her own and being from a northern, hockey-playing state like Alaska.
John McCain and Palin are trying to relate to mothers who spend their days driving kids between school and sport commitments—those women who prefer more traditional, and conservative, roles.
But it also may be a direct attempt at attracting those women who both raise children and have careers of their own since Palin is a pretty good example as such, being governor of her home state.
Hillary Clinton’s run for the Democratic presidential nod produced major excitement for women candidates, and very well may open more doors for women in politics down the road. But she wasn’t as “down to earth” as Palin perceives to be, considering her senatorial background and her business suits stood in the way of her ability to connect with the average American mother.
Palin—white and middle class—could be the deciding factor in determining whether white, middle-class suburban mothers voted for Barack Obama or John McCain yesterday—and she’s been making plenty of appearances at hockey games to reinforce this motherly image down the stretch drive.
She dropped the puck at ceremonial face-offs in Philadelphia and St. Louis, and not only did the Flyers lose four-straight after, but Blues’ goalie Manny Legace tripped on the carpet rolled out for Palin and suffered a hip flexor injury (he’s been out ever since).
As well, during a first-period fight in that game between the Blues’ Cam Janssen and the L.A. Kings’ Sean O’Donnell, the Associated Press reported Palin as watching the fight enthusiastically, clapping as the fight got more intense, and even waving an oversized Blues foam finger as the linesman broke up the scuffle.
Seemingly harmless on the surface, this bit of hockey fight promotion very well could be a strategy on the Republicans’ part. They seem to be catering to the often-idealized form of American masculinity—irrational, ignorant, easy to manipulate, and extremely patriotic.
Many Americans still have these deeply-rooted values, and very well could be swayed by seemingly irrelevant gestures like Palin’s cheering for a hockey fight.
That’s maybe why Palin is a hockey mom and not a soccer mom, too.
Despite the fact soccer is played by tons more children than that of hockey in the U.S., hockey—and the fights that go with it—is seen as the more American sport, promoting American ideals.
Despite soccer’s popularity as a playing sport—and the fact it continues to gain ground and become a fixture in popular culture (David Beckham, anyone?)—there remains a way of thinking in the U.S., and here in Canada to a degree, that perceives it to be foreign, full of softies who fake injuries, and aimed at attacking blue-collar American values.
Was the strategy strong enough to sway some voters? Last night’s election results surely provide your answer.
By Mitch Calvert, Staff writer