An Open Letter to CSN About Courtney Laughlin

Posted January 16, 2015

Courtney Laughlin with her brother Kyle and father Craig. (Caps Outsider)

Dear CSN:

Let’s talk about Courtney Laughlin for a bit.

Social media’s an important thing. I get that. I use it every day and really can’t watch sports any more without it. But you’re totally wasting the talents of Courtney Laughlin by what amounts to having her only read tweets on-air during your pre-game show.

I don’t know Courtney at all. But I know she was a hockey coach. She was a guest instructor at Capitals development camp and a former college level player and coach in her own right. I think it’s fair to say she knows the game more than most people would on an expert-level.

There are those in and around this sport who still think women don’t belong in locker rooms. There are those in and around this sport who use their position to prey on women through social media. There are those in and around this sport, particularly on its lower levels, that view women as merely “puck bunnies” to be used and abused and tossed aside, with no thought to the toll it takes on them.

My goal is not to make Courtney Laughlin a martyr for an type of cause or make her into a figure for a movement that she has every right to choose not to associate herself with, because that’s her choice entirely. But it cannot be denied that she has the potential to be an important voice simply BECAUSE those things mentioned above still exist. There are an inordinately tiny number of women in “important” positions not just in hockey, but in all of sports. To my knowledge, there are no women analysts covering the NFL. Or college football. Or the NBA. Or the NHL. Off the top of my head, the last woman I can think of doing men’s sports that wasn’t a sideline reporter or studio host was Cassie Campbell-Pascall, who was doing color recently for Hockey Night In Canada, but seems to have ceased that role recently. There aren’t any women assistant coaches or head coaches or video coaches in any of the major sports. How is our culture going to get over its collective hangups on women in traditionally “male” avocations if no one’s got the guts to even try to put them there when they’re clearly qualified?

I love this game and I love the joy it brings people. I also want it to be the most progressive game in the world and to embrace people of all backgrounds and genders and ethnicity and sexual orientations. I want little boys to grow up viewing women not as merely eye candy, but as serious individuals with a voice and an opinion to be debated with respectfully. I want little girls to see someone like Courtney Laughlin and be inspired to seek out careers and opportunities within athletics and within life they may not have thought of before.

It’s 2015, guys. It’s beyond past time.


RM Cooper