During the Jets-Ducks playoff series, Winnipeg fans chanted “Katy Perry” at Anaheim’s Corey Perry. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about it today. He did not answer the question gracefully.
Jesse Spector of The Sporting News asked Bettman about the chant, and if it would be discouraging to the NHL’s female fanbase. The commissioner didn’t see a problem.
Those two things are different, because there’s no reason to be offended by general booing. The “Katy Perry” joke is tacky and dumb, like when fans call Rays third baseman Evan Longoria “Eva.” But Bettman dug a deeper hole for himself when he answered followup questions. From the Wall Street Journal:
Bettman said the NHL has a track record of “diversity, inclusiveness and doing the right thing.” He noted the league has a bigger female fan base compared to other professional leagues.
He likened the “Katy Perry” insult to calling a goalie a “sieve.”
Another reporter, Sarah Kwak of Sports Illustrated, noted that “sieves don’t have feelings.”
“You don’t see how taunting a player by calling them a woman could be sexist?” she said.
“I see the point but I don’t think it’s overly literal. Short of gagging everyone who comes to a game I’m not sure we can stifle that,” he said.
Comparing a sieve to a woman misses the point. The “Katy Perry” chant isn’t even as big a deal—as Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski points out—as the other common hockey insults, like calling the Sedin twins “sisters,” or Sidney “Cindy” Crosby. There’s a prevalence of these stupid jokes, and it really shouldn’t be that hard for the league’s commissioner to not put his foot in his mouth when he’s asked about them.