Goalie masks have long seen some pretty creative ideas, honoring everyone and everything from The Rock to Duck Hunt to The Shining. However, the ones worn by two members of the U.S. women’s hockey team are stirring up controversy for an unexpected reason; because they include images of the Statue of Liberty. Nicole Hensley has the statue painted on the left side of her mask, while Alex Rigsby has it on her chin. And as per Kevin Allen of USA Today, the International Olympic Committee may try to make the goalies alter their masks thanks to a rule against “political symbols”:
USA Hockey is working with the IOC to see whether goalies Nicole Hensley and Alex Rigsby really will have to remove the Statue of Liberty from their goalkeepers masks.
USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer said on Tuesday “discussions are ongoing” after the IOC said earlier the images would have to be removed.
The IOC views the image as a possible violation of its policy against political symbols. The rule from the IOC Guidelines Regarding Authorized Identifications: No item may feature the wording or lyrics from national anthems, motivational words, public/political messaging or slogans related to national identity.
Rigsby’s mask can be seen above (in a photo from a December exhibition against Canada), while Hensley’s can be seen here:
It should be noted that Rigsby’s mask also has a depiction of Uncle Sam on one side. No word on if that is a controversial “slogan related to national identity” as well.
The overall idea of limiting what athletes can wear is problematic in general, but it’s perhaps particularly dumb when it comes to goalie masks. There’s such a long history of expression on those masks, and stifling that takes away some of the fun. And this is perhaps a particularly bad battle for the IOC to pick given the popularity of the Statue of Liberty. We’ll see how this turns out, but one way or another, we should know soon; Allen’s piece notes that a decision is expected before the U.S. game against Russia Tuesday, which takes place at 7:10 a.m. Eastern.