By: Allan Erickson
Here’s something I don’t do very often. I’m going to take a jab at my favorite sport to watch, and the league that has a month of their season dedicated to inclusion of all kinds of people. The National Hockey League has declared each February “Hockey is for Everyone” month, an idea that sounds great in theory; but some fans aren’t behaving like human beings, and it’s come to the forefront this week.
In a game (during Hockey is for Everyone month,) at The United Center, home of the Chicago Blackhawks, there were racist remarks screamed at an African American hockey player. Devante Smith-Pelly, a forward for the Washington Capitals was spoken down to, in what many hockey fans consider one of the greatest arenas we have, and one of the most loyal fan bases throughout the sport. Forget the fact that the Blackhawks have one of the most controversial mascots and logos in sports today, right up there with the likes of the Washington Redskins, and look at what this movement is supposed to be doing for this league. The NHL has declared this a month of belonging, and making people feel like hockey is for anybody that wants to give it a go. Now consider that a young, hard-working player who doesn’t get talked about often because he is on the ice with the great Alexander Ovechkin, is ridiculed on opposing ice because he’s one of the few African Americans in the sport. Sounds bad, right? That’s because it is. But it should also open your eyes to the constant racism that is still running rampant throughout these United States of America.
To think, that a hockey player is cursed, has racial slurs shouted in his direction all while playing a game. That’s hard enough to comprehend in this day and age. Now, consider these things happening in a month that the NHL preaches diversity and pledges to welcome all. It’s disgusting, it’s disturbing, it’s wrong, and the fans should be ashamed of themselves for making this man’s life harder than it already is. There are not many successful African American hockey players. This man found a sport that he loves, and is good enough to make it to the highest level and compete night in and night out. It’s 2018, people; no man should be discriminated against because of his race, especially not in a sport that has a month dedicated to inclusion, and this just so happens to take place in that month. For all you naysayers, out there; wake up and smell the disgust. Racism is still here, it’s real, it’s dividing the country, and the league is trying to unify people with this movement, but it’s not working.
Food for thought- everyone’s views on racism are different. It’s alright to have opinions about a huge controversial issue in this country. But if you can’t see a problem with a man going to the rink, lacing up his skates, and giving it his all on the ice, while having racial obscenities shouted at him, then you’re not a part of the solution.