Opinion: Racism shouldn’t be part of hockey, or life

Wayne Simmonds

We asked five of our sportswriters here at the Toronto Observer to pen their thoughts on the “banana incident”. Here is Jonathan Brazeau’s. We also present Mike Woodrow’s, Adam Martin’s, Ryan Fines’ and TJ Llewellyn’s.

It was a stupid and cowardly act from one out of 7,427 in attendance at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont.

A “fan” threw a banana or a banana peel on the ice as Philadelphia winger Wayne Simmonds, who is black, skated towards Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jordan Pearce in a pre-season shootout on Thursday night.

In the cellphone video shot at the game, you can hear the crowd immediately express their disgust at the racist act and on Friday, those around the league were shocked and appalled by the incident.

Simmonds, a native of Scarborough, Ont., issued a statement saying he’s, “above this sort of stuff,” and added, “When you’re a black man playing a predominantly white man’s sport, you’ve got to come to expect things like that.”

He shouldn’t have to.

As mature as the 23-year-old Simmonds was in his statement to shrug off the incident and move on, we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss what happened Thursday night.

Simmonds shouldn’t feel as if an incident like this is bound to happen and it’s best just to ignore it. He should never have to feel like that in the first place.

When these incidents occur, we should express our disgust to show they’re unacceptable and by shunning them will hopefully prevent them from happening again.

The presence of minorities in hockey is growing and shows the sport is an inclusionary game, especially in Canada where we pride ourselves on being multicultural and accepting others.

We also shouldn’t go to the extremes and blame all London fans or ban hockey from the city until the individual is caught when we don’t even know if the person is even from London.

It was one person who did something on his or her own accord and we may not even know what they were thinking when they threw it.

I do understand that by giving the incident prominent media coverage, we could be giving an attention-seeker exactly what they’re craving, as Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban pointed out to reporters on Friday morning.

Logan Couture

However, I feel it’s necessary to universally disown what happened to show we’re united and will not tolerate this.

Race isn’t just an issue we can pass off and move on to the next game. It’s something people deal with on a daily basis.

San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture said it best on his Twitter account: “No need for this in sports, or life.”

About this article

By: Jonathan Brazeau
Posted: Sep 23 2011 10:14 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports