Photo from Hilary Knight's July 19 tweet announcing her Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything")

Photo from Hilary Knight's July 19 tweet announcing her Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything")

While idly perusing twitter a couple of days ago, I saw that professional hockey player (Boston Pride) and U.S. National Team star Hilary Knight had taken part in a Reddit AMA. Someone I follow on twitter reported that, during the session, she'd been asked why she chose hockey over figure skating.

Implicit in the question, of course, is the assumption that, rather than hockey, figure skating is the skating sport that girls and women would/should naturally pursue. You'd have to be a strange woman indeed to choose hockey over figure skating. Not only strange, but also, quite possibly, difficult, contrary, subversive - even unwomanly (!!!).

The question also brings to my mind some of that Title IX-derived "separate but equal" rubbish. (I hate to bash Title IX, which has obviously been important and beneficial, but it does have its downsides.) For example, during the fall season in high school we have football for the boys, so we need a sport for the girls. Let's say ... volleyball? That works -- the boys won't need the gym because they'll be out on the football field. Okay, volleyball it is. But here's the thing, and it's nothing against volleyball, but let's face it: playing volleyball is unlikely to satisfy a girl who really wants to play football. Likewise, playing football isn't going to satisfy the boy who really wants to play volleyball. And figure skating, my friends -- as amazingly beautiful and athletic as it is -- is unlikely to satisfy the person of any gender who really wants to play hockey.

I often get the same question that Knight got. I'll be at the rink, lacing up my hockey skates, and someone will ask, out of the clear blue sky, "why aren't you doing figure skating?" Often it's one of the very first things someone will say to me.

I always answer nicely, but honestly, people! It's 2017! Can't we move past this ridiculous stereotyping, which only serves to keep people trapped in little boxes and make them feel bad or embarrassed for who they are?

(And in case you're wondering, when they asked Hilary Knight why she chose hockey over figure skating she said, "my choice was between skiing and hockey.")