Hockey and Racism Don’t Mix, Here’s a Few Reasons Why:

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May 3, 2014 by Joe Baugnet

For years hockey has been a predominantly white sport, everyone knows that. However, non-hockey fans and new fans must look at the recent racist attacks against P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds as something uncharacteristic of hockey.

Here’s a few reasons why:

1.) Hockey prides itself on discipline and respect.

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Those of you who would like to argue that dropping the gloves and going to town is neither, you must realize that there is a time and a place for it. How many times have you elected to physically subject yourself to damage in order to stick up for a co-worker or fellow teammate?

Any true hockey player and fan would tell you that what happened with Subban and Simmonds was completely idiotic. Do people realize how incredibly talented both players are? If you love the sport of hockey, regardless of what team you prefer, you would never make a comment about a players race. If anything, I think it’s pretty damn cool to see black athletes in hockey.

2.) Boston lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference second-round series because Subban had two goals and Price played out of his mind.

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The glorious part about hockey is that it doesn’t matter how many shots on net you put on, the shots that count are the ones that go in. Nowhere in this process does race play a factor. A true hockey fan would realize that luck isn’t always on your side. Roll with the punches and get them next game. Your racial opinions mean nothing to the scoreboard.

3.) Wayne Simmonds positioning in front of the net is incredible.

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Trying to explain positioning to a new hockey fan is like explaining to a capitalist why they can’t have your money. It doesn’t register with them.

To shed light on Philly’s  5-2 blowout in Game 6, all three of Simmonds goals were a direct result of tremendous positioning. There are several teams I can name that if they took few positioning tips from Simmonds, they might be in the playoffs right now.

4.) The feeling of scoring a game-winning goal and defeating your opponent transcends all racial stereotypes.

The first tournament I ever won as a hockey player came when I was about 13 years old. One of our teammates was black and my first goal playing travel hockey came from his assist. I remember scoring my first goal and bear hugging him as our team pulled ahead. What the hell was race? It meant absolutely nothing, we were teammates and he was a damn good player. It was a huge milestone in my life, and I will always remember that day.

5.) Hockey players work to damn hard to care about race.
Maybe these racists’ 9-5’s have their panties all up in a bunch, but most big-boy jobs don’t allow people to consider race as an inhibitor to production. It’s no different for hockey.

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I’m sure there’s several racist hockey players playing in the NHL, but I can guarantee they keep it to themselves. Why?

  • They’ll get their ass kicked. Watch an NHL player yell a racial slur at another teams player and watch what happens.
  • With the way the NHL works, they could trade you in a day. Next thing you know, you’re on the bench with the leagues top black player.
  • The desire to win a championship is an all-inclusive feeling. Unless you’re an owner trying to capitalize on earnings, players don’t have time to think about the racial demographics of their teammates. They need to win. (I would place a great bet that any racist hockey players who played with Subban or Simmonds are no longer racists).
  • Legal fines. Hockey doesn’t allow rookie contracts to fulfill an entire life’s worth of pay, unlike some sports. Therefore, being sued in the NHL actually means something. No one is going to risk a hefty sum of their paycheck to fulfill the need to yell a petty slur.

6.) People are starting to realize that hockey is the greatest sport in the world, why stop them?

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If you measured the growth of hockey in Illinois from when I was first born (1990) to now, you would be astonished. People love playing the sport and they love to watch it. The more people educate themselves, the more they realize that it is not a goon-driven-free-for-all. The narrow-minded individuals that feel the need to force their racial beliefs into the sport are going to have a very hard time stopping black youth from playing hockey. It’s a great feeling to see young kids playing the sport early on, regardless of color.

2002-03: 21,067
2008-09: 21,954
2012-13: 27,638
Ten-Year Growth: 6,571 (31.1%)
Five-Year Growth: 5,684 (25.89%)
Data courtesy of The United States of Hockey Blog

Blame millennials for sitting on their cell phones too long, but don’t blame them for being progressive. Studies show that millennials are becoming more accepting of race, which will blend itself in with the sport.

7.) With all the terrible things going on in this world, hockey is a small relief that makes a big impact on others. 

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I was most shocked that the P.K. Subban incident happened in Boston. After stamping #BostonStrong onto anything they could get their hands onto, you would think Boston fans would have learned that hate gets you nowhere. The Boston Bombings were an act of terror that was meant to kill anyone, regardless of their color.

To keep my mind from thinking about being part of a tragedy such as this, I play hockey. Hockey has a tremendous ability to get players minds away from anything that is going on in our lives. When you are in the zone, you are not getting out until the game is over.

This special connection isn’t just for players, it’s for fans too. So please folks, start watching hockey for hockey. If you’re not at the game for the sport, I beg of you to give your ticket to someone who cares.

-Joe Baugnet
Editor, Cups & Pucks


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