In a bizarre report coming out of Sweden, players from Leksands IF of the pro women’s league are expressing frustration about having to clean up the stands after men’s games.
Initially reported by the Swedish website SVT and later brought to attention by The Ice Garden’s Meredith Foster, the report says female players aren’t happy with having to clean-up after men’s league games.
“You stop hoping,” said one disappointed player. “We are the first team, but it is not noticeable.”
“It is tragic that we are so used to this,” shared another Leksands player.
Leksands CEO Christer Plars said “everyone must participate and contribute to the club,” and that he’ll “assume” the team will continue to clean up after four games starting next season. Now, it should be noted, male players playing for Leksands are also responsible for cleaning duty. But I mean, come on. What message does this send to young girls who want to play hockey for Leksands? Unquestionably, a poor one. Foster has more on that:
Fostering a culture of individual contribution is one thing, but Plars is woefully oblivious to the insulting nature of what the women are being asked to do. It plays right into sexist attitudes about the value of women’s work. The optics are nothing short of dreadful. Even if it’s volunteer work, how voluntary is it, really? Paid or not, the SDHL players do a job, and they understand there’s a power structure in play.
If, as he claims, the money the club saves on hiring cleaners goes back into the organization, just how much of that will go back to the women? Although Plars claims the club has reached an agreement with CCM to get the women more equipment, he neglected to specify any other concrete plans beyond “a lot of investing” in improved conditions.
Treating players like the professional athletes they are instead of treating them like unpaid domestic servants would be a good place to start.
It seems odd that the team wants players cleaning up after games and not a professional cleaning staff. Plars is apparently so cheap that he wants to save a few bucks by humiliating his players. Sound business, maybe, but ridiculously shortsighted on his behalf, and as Foster notes, the optics are bad no matter how balanced the situation is. If Plars wants to do the right thing, he’ll hire professional cleaners and let the players do what they’re there to do, play hockey.