I can’t believe that it’s 2012 and we have to discuss this at all, but some deeply narrow-minded, racist people got on the Internet after the Boston Bruins’ season-ending game and proceeded to call Joel Ward, who scored the game-winning goal, an offensive racial slur.
This despite the fact that the Boston Bruins were the very first NHL team to ever give a black player a chance to play–Willie O’Ree, 1958. This despite the fact that the Bruins fanbase, like pretty much any other fanbase out there, contains a wide variety of people from every race and ethnicity. It’s shameful, it truly is, and in absolutely no way is indicative of how everyone else in the fanbase feels.
Remember earlier in this NHL season when someone threw a banana at Wayne Simmonds, who is black, during a Philadelphia Flyers/Detroit Red Wings preseason game? Or when that exact same thing happened in 2002 to Kevin Weekes, who was with the Carolina Hurricanes at the time and who is also black? Simmonds said something so upsetting at the time it happened to him–he said that he basically has to expect things like that and learn how to deal with it.
But why should he have to do that at all? Why should he not be able to enjoy playing the sport he loves without having to keep that thought in the back of his mind, the idea that someone might throw a slur–or a banana–at him? Why are some supposed ‘fans’ still so ignorant that they let the color of someone else’s skin affect them like that?
NHL players are required to take diversity seminars and are punished with fines or suspensions if they say something offensive. Maybe some of their fans should get a refresher course on how to not be a bigoted jerk, too.
Also, the Bruins actually put out a statement that reads as follows:
“The Bruins are very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night. These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization.”
This should come as a surprise to no one, but when people get angry about offensive things that a few very bad apples spew, they sometimes extrapolate and assume that every other fan of the same team is like that too, or that the team itself somehow endorses this ignorance. This is, of course, not the case.