Since when has the word “basketball” been a racist term? Are you sick and tired of the anti-White media constantly attacking with made up dogma? When will enough be enough for White people? At some point, any White individual with at least one working brain cell will recognize this attack and stop kneeling down like whipped dogs. For the countless number of White people subjected to real harassment and attacks from non-Whites, I am sure it would be a blessing to only hear words such as “basketball.”
On Saturday at the United Center, a beautiful night on the ice coincided with ugliness in the stands when four racist jerks embarrassed themselves, the Blackhawks, the sport of hockey and the city of Chicago.
It should be their last Hawks game at the UC. Come to think of it, every one of Chicago’s professional sports teams should ban the offending Neanderthals from walking through their gates. Zero tolerance is the best way to fight intolerance.
In the third period of a 7-1 victory over the Capitals, ushers ejected the so-called fans after they taunted visiting forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who is black, after he was sent to the penalty box for fighting with Hawks defenseman Connor Murphy. The Washington Post cited a Caps official who said the men yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who was visibly upset and reacted by tapping the glass with his stick.
Don’t be one of those people parsing the offensive language to see if it rises to the level of racism. Don’t diminish the power of derogatory words, even if they aren’t the ones some usually associate with hate speech. A slur is a slur, and its hateful origin was based on Smith-Pelly’s skin color. That’s vile anywhere and unacceptable everywhere. Paying $500 for a seat behind the glass doesn’t buy anyone the right to act like a bigot.
Caps coach Barry Trotz set the right angry tone postgame.
“There is absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “Disgusting. Athletes in our country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”
The Hawks quickly concurred. The team issued a statement late Saturday night that included an apology to Smith-Pelly and the Caps organization.
“We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for everyone who attends our games and these actions will never be tolerated,” the statement read.
Any game marred by a racial incident qualifies as bad. What made this one even worse was that it came in the midst of the NHL’s “Hockey Is For Everyone” month, a February promotion intended to show how the game can “drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities.’’
Hockey most certainly can. Their cause is just, the goal noble. But, unfortunately, somewhere out there, a talented young black kid learning how to stick-handle might read a headline from Saturday night and wonder if the game is for him.
Roughly 30 NHL players are black. For hockey to indeed become a more inclusive community, like the ad says, then the league must commit to policing its rinks and responding as responsibly as the Hawks did — even if the incident represents the exception more than a rule as it pertains to NHL fans.
How encouraging that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recognized as much.
“Last night in Chicago, individuals directed racial taunts and abuse at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly (and) while this incident was isolated in nature, no player, coach, official or fan should ever have to endure such abuse at one of our games,” Bettman said in a statement issued Sunday. “The League will take steps to have our clubs remind all stakeholders that they are entitled to enjoy a positive environment — free from unacceptable, inappropriate, disruptive, inconsiderate or unruly behaviors or actions and may not engage in conduct deemed detrimental to that experience.”
A league with a fan base not exactly known for its diversity took the strong stand it needed to take. The Hawks and NHL set the kind of example we increasingly have come to expect from sports teams and their stars. Sports indeed can lead important and necessary social discussion and, if you doubt that, you slept through last week.
Look at Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, whose eloquence and awareness speaking at a candlelight vigil for the shooting victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where Rizzo attended, displayed as much power as anything he’s ever done at the plate.
Look at the four Hawks players — Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook — who supported the Chicago Police Department by standing in line Friday night in Bridgeport with so many other mourners to pay their respects to fallen Cmdr. Paul Bauer at the officer’s wake.
Look at LeBron James, one of the most polarizing athletes in sports, who not only understands his reach but embraces his responsibility as a role model tightly enough to engage discussion – even after Fox News host Laura Ingraham disparagingly told James to “shut up and dribble.’’
“I will definitely not do that,” James told reporters Saturday at NBA All-Star weekend festivities in Los Angeles. “I mean too much to society, I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to so many kids that feel like they don’t have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”
You don’t have to like James to respect his intentions to offer kids hope and open people’s minds. Sports often can offer a light that leads out of darkness, an avenue to enlightenment or empowerment. Sports should be the place we can escape society’s ills for a few hours, not encounter the type of ugliness that happened Saturday night at 1901 W. Madison St.
A few ruined it for the many. Now, those fools can go away for good.