MARLBORO, NY – Last week Angry Ward asked for my take on that unfortunate incident that occurred during the Chicago Black Hawks vs Washington Capitals game at the ironically-named “United” Center. So, today I am here today to extrapolate on such. Four ignoramuses – you know the type – the ones with front-row, ice-level seats, who pound on the inside of the plexiglass while the game is in front of them. These idiots yelled, “Basketball! basketball! basketball!” to the Caps Devante Smith-Pelly, as the black player sat in the penalty box. Rightly so, the two men and women were escorted out of the building and banned from the arena.
All of this happens during an Olympics February when we celebrate the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team, Black History Month, and the NHL’s Hockey Is For Everyone initiative where they prop up the Jackie Robinson of hockey, Willie O’Ree to promote the sport and it’s mission statement:
Hockey is for Everyone™ uses the game of hockey – and the League’s global influence – to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities.
“We support any teammate, coach or fan who brings heart, energy and passion to the rink. We believe all hockey programs – from professionals to youth organizations – should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.”
Simply put, Hockey is for Everyone™.
Yada, Yada, Yada. But is hockey truly for everyone?
First and foremost, there’s the bottom-line. According to SidelineSwap.com, to outfit a hockey player from head-to-toe will set you back on average $2100 – or two times the U.S. average monthly mortgage payment. Not surprisingly, hockey is the most expensive sport to play and we haven’t even talked about the cost of learning how to skate in the way of lessons and/or ice time if you don’t live in the proper geographical climate. Not to get too political here but the cost to a diminishing middle-class and inner-city population will only prohibit the sport from reaching the global appeal of say soccer and basketball where all you need is flat land and a round ball.
Hockey is truly for the upper class. Yes, there are affordable recreation leagues, but how many public schools have hockey teams? Want to play High School hockey? You’ll then have to shell out tuition to a private or preparatory school that has a program. And then there are the college hockey heavyweights located in the northeast and Great Lakes regions, requiring higher-than-average SAT scores… the elite include Ivy League schools, Renselaar, Boston University and the like. Johnny or Jenny better be physically and intelligently gifted to qualify for a scholarship, if you are a family of average means.
The deterioration of humanity as seen in Chicago is not new and ruins hockey for everyone and drives a dagger to the heart of those like me who love the sport. Hockey has clear disadvantages in making it accessible to all but until we learn to be more civil as a society and learn to embrace our differences, only then will hockey shed it’s label as a “white” sport.
If Willie O’Ree can break hockey’s color barrier in a segregated city like 1950’s Boston, anything is possible, so long as we behave ourselves as to not discourage minorities with the idiocy and hate Smith-Pelly faced.
That’s all for now. Feel free to leave your thoughts about this or anything else below and come back tomorrow for a man that would bear-hug Smith-Pelly, DJ Eberle.
NOTE: MTM Edit Staff teared up watching the above.