Make sure you scroll through this blog to read the comments that keep coming in from all over . . . . .

Sarah Palin calls herself a hockey mom, and the media has dropped that shorthand into numerous reports about the Republican governor of Alaska since John McCain plucked her from political obscurity. There are thousands of hockey moms in the United States, so, without some detail, the term is almost meaningless. What the nation really needs to know -- and maybe we'll get it from her speech at the convention tonight -- is what type of hockey mom she is. There are various types, after all, and, being a hockey dad with considerable experience in this field, I will provide a guide to fellow journalists as they set out to research Sarah Palin's background.


First of all, I should point out some distinctions between hockey moms and the soccer moms of American political cliché.

Soccer moms get to attend their children's games in the great outdoors, often in warm sunshine. Hockey moms rise early, in the dark morning hours of a winter Saturday or Sunday, and drive their hockey-playing children to an ice rink in time for an 8:00 am game, which occurs indoors, under the dim lights of cold hockey rinks.

Depending on where she lives, a hockey mom may have to travel two hours to an ice rink and she is expected to arrive one hour before a game. This is less common today because there are more rinks in the United States than when youth hockey first got its red-eyed reputation. Still, in parts of the country where hockey has grown in popularity – in southern or western communities, for instance -- the drive between rinks can be quite long. And, in Alaska, no trip is short.

Hockey moms know the price of gas intimately, they have to work hard to get a tan and they don't sleep as much as soccer moms do. Their wardrobes involve a lot of Polar Fleece.

Many hockey moms give up stuff to pay for their kids' hockey experience. Primarily because of the cost of ice time, it's a relatively expensive sport, and it covers two seasons, fall and winter. Hockey moms might be among the last group of Americans who actually try to save money during the year so they can pay for their kids' choice of sport.

Now, within the ranks of hockey moms, there are different types. Here are three:

Cool-Not-Cold Hockey Mom: Lets her husband do the driving. She stays in bed as long as possible, and at home with younger children. Does not like hockey that much, wishes her kid played soccer. When she turns up for a hockey game, she usually watches from the rink lobby, where it's warm. This is an intelligent woman capable of detached reason – supportive of her children, yet wise enough to know that adequate sleep is necessary for household leadership and that it's only human to want to stay warm in cold places. She does not regard herself as superior, just rational.
Power Play Hockey Mom: Assumes leadership in her kids' ice hockey clubs and is practiced in multiple-tasking. Volunteers to schedule games, order uniforms or manage a team. Knows little about hockey, but knows how to run the game clock. Conducts 50-50 raffles and Bingo nights. Helps organize pizza and pasta sales. Uses a Sharpie to personalize, with the calligraphy she learned when calligraphy was a craze, each player's water bottle. This woman has compartmentalized her life, and hardly ever forgets a name or face. She gets to practices and games the children of less-organized families.
X-treme Hockey Mom: Totally into hockey and seeing her kids play in college some day. Knows all the teams, all the coaches and how they're all rated. Gets to be a little overwrought at times, always looking for the best deal for her kids and is not above playing one hockey club against another. Very savvy to the international aspect of the sport and could probably clean Joe Biden's clock in a debate about whether the East Europeans are now better at the sport than the Canadians who invented it. You don't want to mess with X-treme Hockey Mom. She'll drop the gloves on ya.

I am curious to know which description fits Sarah Palin, not only the first woman nominated as a Republican candidate for vice-president but the first major political figure that I recall with "hockey mom" in her profile.
To this point, we have not heard as much about hockey moms because their children's sport is not as ubiquitous as soccer. Youth soccer is everywhere. My god, there's no escape from it!
Hockey, on the other hand, has spread throughout the United States, but is still concentrated in states that begin with M and were on the Union side in the Civil War – Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota.
Hockey is big mainly in Blue states (New England, New York, New Jersey included), but in 2008, a couple of key hockey-mom states are in play – Ohio, Michigan, parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia. (Yes, Virginia, there is plenty of ice hockey in your state.)
I suppose this improves McCain's chances among swing voters, except for what it assumes – that women might choose a president based on who his vice-presidential running mate is, no matter what her political positions are, or because she's a woman, or because her kids play ice hockey. The Sarah factor might prove me wrong, but I think that's all thin ice. We shall see, eh?