We’ve all heard the story of Jack and Jill – they were a couple of kids with an unfortunate lack of coordination and balance; probably one of the first references in English literature to concussions too! Poor Jack.
My story today, however, is about Jock and Jill. Yes, Jock and Jill is another tale known to many hockey moms. See, Jock has been around for a long time. Jock made a brief appearance in my life when I met my husband in the late ‘80’s and he played the occasional beer league hockey game with friends when someone from their normal line-up wasn’t available. Soon thereafter, Jock disappeared for a great many years.
In 2001, two newer, younger, more modern versions of Jock came into our lives and have stuck around for many years. That was the year I became a hockey mom for the first time and we bought our two sons their first jocks as part of their Timbit hockey gear (my boys are seventeen months apart so we held our eldest back a year so as to start both boys off in Timbit and take both boys to those 6AM practices, but the joke was on us as they put the two of them on different teams anyway).
In 2004, my daughter began her minor hockey career and that’s when we met Jill for the first time. Though my daughter has been forced to wear her older brothers’ hand-me-down hockey gear for many years, we agreed that a jill was female-specific and worth the investment. While the difference between a jock and a jill is not as conspicuous as the differences between men and women themselves, girls’ bodies are different and need to be protected differently. Perhaps more attention should be paid to gender-specific gear.
According to Hockey Canada, women’s hockey is the fastest growing segment of the game. So while gender-specific hockey gear does seem to be available for purchase online, I don’t see it very often in sporting goods stores in our neck of the woods, and I never see it at sports equipment swaps. Aside from the jill and the odd pink helmet or pink hockey gloves, I have not seen a great deal of female-specific anything in hockey. Most likely because across Canada boys still play hockey in larger numbers than girls.
As such, the attention and availability for now seems to still be focused on boys’ hockey equipment, and commercial ads during NHL games would support this, but hopefully this will soon change. While I have no statistics to support this, I have to believe that if women’s hockey is the fastest growing segment of participation, it must also be a growing, and probably largely untapped segment of the hockey viewing market as well. Lord knows women are well-represented (in number at least) in most beer commercials, let’s advocate for them to be part of the hockey equipment advertisements too! Maybe soon we’ll see not just a hockey equipment section in the sporting goods store but a men’s/boys and women’s/girls section as well.
Or maybe, like our family, it’s because most girls are still wearing their brothers’ hand-me-downs.
Three cheers for the Jock and Jill – and may they be worn by the right player!
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