Dear Sharks Staff,
I grew up in San Jose. I can’t imagine life without the Sharks in it - it’s as much a part of my home as hazy heat in the summers, terrifying rides over 17 to the beach, the sight of Hangar One and the rolling hills that surround our valley. They were so much a part of the background noise of my life growing up that my fandom snuck up on me during high school. As I moved away from San Jose and around the country, homesickness made my love of the Sharks stronger. Following the team was like going home. The off-ice behavior of the team mirrored many of the values that the community of the Bay Area shares. I was so proud that my team stood up for what was right by getting behind the You Can Play Project. S.J. Sharkie made appearances at parades, community events, and schools, using his fun personality to grow community goodwill for the team without the Sharks having to rely on using Ice Girls as many other teams had.
Now, however, I see that the Sharks will be changing the nature of their existing co-ed ice crew. Where once we had men and women in similar practical outfits to tend to the ice during TV breaks, now there are different uniforms for the women. While (from what I understand) the ice crew used to consist of members of the local hockey and ice skating community, now there are auditions being held for female team members. With the announcement that skating skills are preferred but not required, this combined with new image of midriff-baring uniforms implied that looks and peppy attitude are all that is needed to be an ice crew member.
To say I am disappointed is an extreme understatement. I understand that Ice Girls also function as community outreach and PR for the team, but this function was already being filled by S.J. Sharkie, who is widely regarded as one of the best mascots in sports. If you wanted human faces for the team, why not use the existing Ice Crew in their existing uniforms? What function does adding a new, skimpy outfit to your female Ice Crew members serve? There is only one element that this change brings to the team, and I don’t think that I need to spell it out for you. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand the business motivation behind this decision. I’m not foolish, I know that in a city mockingly called “Man Jose” that there is an appeal to using sex to sell. The Sharks were not having any trouble being popular in San Jose, however - the excitement the city feels when the team is doing well is palpable when you walk down the street, and you can feel the depression when they do poorly. People of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes love the Sharks in San Jose. Men and women both. There is only one kind of new customer that you will attract with the addition of Ice Girls - the kind of customer who will make the arena an uncomfortable place for many of the people who currently buy tickets to your games. Women, children, and many of the male fans I’ve talked to are uncomfortable with the thought of what kind of person this will bring in to the Shark Tank.
It’s not the midriffs or the tight pants that make me uncomfortable. It’s what they will bring in to the arena that make me uncomfortable. We already have an effective co-ed Ice Crew - there is no positive change that a change in uniform for the women will bring. Sure, maybe you’ll sell some tickets to people who weren’t there for hockey already. Probably a few more beers, too. But the many women and families whose ticket sales, merchandise sales, and concession sales you have enjoyed the profits of for so many years will probably choose to stay away from the arena as this new crowd comes in. The Sharks are from one of the most progressive areas in the country, one that prides itself on equality and social justice. Using sexual appeal to market your team is out of sync with the values of the people in your community.
At best, this change has no net effect to your profits and serves to make many in your existing fanbase uncomfortable.
At worst, you alienate your fans and lose money.
Please reconsider your decision to change the nature of the San Jose Sharks Ice Crew.
Very Sincerely Yours,
Active Sharks Fan since 2003
Submitted to the Sharks via webform. If you would like to submit your own letter to the Sharks, you can do so here.
I owe you guys Better Know a Team posts about the Canadiens and the Kings. I’m holding off until Friday to post about the Blackhawks because HOPEFULLY IT WILL STILL BE RELEVANT.
Also I’m mad at real life for getting in the way of posting this weekend and also making me miss what was apparently a crazy game five in the East.
Sorry guys, I suck, more posting will be had, I promise.