During an amateur hockey game in mid-November in Peterborough, Canada, a 16-year-old kid gets angry at an opposing player – who happens to be black – and uses the N-word.
The racist kid is benched by his coach for the remainder of the period, but then comes back to play in the next period, as if nothing happened. No apology, no nothing.
Outraged, the black kid’s coach takes his team off the ice and refuses to play the rest of the game. His attitude is that his player has been insulted to the highest degree, and seemingly the other coach isn’t going to do anything about it.
So what does happen? The Ontario Minor Hockey Assn. deliberates and decides that the racist kid should be suspended for 3 games. But the opposing coach of the black kid should be suspended for the rest of the season. After all, the league decides, taking one’s team off the ice and forfeiting a game is ten times more offensive than using the N-word.
Fortunately, the word began to spread throughout Canada, and after a month of media and corporate sponsorship fury, the league decided to reverse its decision on booting the coach for the season. He was reinstated right away.
What’s the takeaway here? To me, this case cried out for simple common sense. If a teenage kid utters a racial slur, that’s the prime time for an adult coach or league administrator (or even the kid’s parent) to step in, remove the kid from the game immediately, and banish the kid from the game and any future ones until he fully understands the impact of his words. A written apology wouldn’t hurt either.
But in this case, it was the opposing coach who got punished…even when he was doing the right thing! So how come it took the hockey league more than a month to figure this out?
PS – one of the callers on the show mentioned that during the course of many sporting contests, a lot of trash talk goes on, and that often racist slurs are shouted between athletes who have the same ethnic background. As the caller said – and I agree – using any kind of ethnic slurs during a game is flat-out wrong, and should be addressed immediately. From my perspective, playing sports should lift our society to a higher level, not take it down a few notches.