Opinion: Simmonds leaving racism behind



A day after being targeted in a racist incident at an NHL pre-season game, Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, who is black, has left the past behind him.

P.K. Subban, the Montreal defenceman, who is also black, thinks it shouldn’t even be a story, and Mike Babcock, head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, hoped he wouldn’t be asked about it in today’s media scrums.

Blowing up an act of racism and making it headline news only acknowledges the guilty person’s point of view.

“It was unfortunate that this incident happened but I am above this sort of stuff,” said the 23-year-old Simmonds, in a statement. “Moving forward, this incident is something I will no longer comment on so I can just focus on playing hockey for the Philadelphia Flyers.”

For those unaware, a banana was thrown at Simmonds while he closed in on Detroit goaltender Jordan Pearce during a shootout in London, Ont. The guilty party has yet to be discovered.

In refusing to recognize the act any further, the young Flyer shows that he is truly superior to whoever behaved in such an inconsiderate and infantile manner.

Like a child misbehaving to get attention, the best way to end this kind of frustrating conduct is by not dignifying it with a response.

Following suit, the Flyers official website has paid no attention to the incident.

When rewarded with a reaction, often an overreaction, dreadful events like that on exhibit at London’s John Labatt Centre continue to appeal to ignorant attention-seekers.

“Really, this is the start of the season and we have a lot better things to talk about,” said Subban, one of the NHL’s growing population of black players.  “I think by us even talking about it we’re giving the person what they want and the focus should be on hockey.”

Not to say that incidents like this shouldn’t be condemned as absolutely unacceptable, but by making such a big deal of it seems counter productive.

In reality, some jerk threw a banana at a black man. It is a terrible shame that this happened, but it is not exactly breaking news.

Some will say that because the circumstances were so publicly observable that the denouncement of such behaviour needs to be expressed in a similar fashion.

By creating such a scene out of a racist expression, society reinforces intolerance towards such events, and all parties linked to the incident can protect their reputations.

However, acknowledging the deed and discussing it in all types of media outlets serves to advertise somebody’s stupid behaviour and reminds us of the hate that unfortunately still exists, thus legitimizing the act in the mind of the person responsible.

Instead of crying foul and dragging the issue out over time, the hockey community should do itself, and Simmonds for that matter, a favour and ignore the idiot who isn’t on board with the rest of society.

The incident has been recognized as appalling and uncalled for in any circumstance, but it is time to close the book on the affair.

Strongly, Simmonds has already moved on from the event, and so should the headlines.

Wayne Simmonds

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

About this article

By: Ryan Fines
Posted: Sep 23 2011 10:11 pm
Filed under: Hockey