When Joel Ward scored the overtime winner for the Capitals to end the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins’ season, a wave of racist tweets surfaced. They ranged from casually offensive to viciously hateful. None were shocking. But they illustrated the latent sentiment that exists in many pockets of the fan base that hockey is a sport to be played and enjoyed by whites.
Being a black hockey fan can be a singular experience. You can feel the racial divide at games. So when Ward lit the lamp last night, yes, personally, it felt good to see a black man score such an important goal for the franchise.
It’s about time that the NHL tackled its race issues head-on. If the league wants to move forward as a brand, they need to recognize that they can do something about racism. When Kobe Bryant yelled a homophobic slur at a referee that was caught on camera, the NBA swiftly and justly fined him and then produced a PSA campaign against usage of the word. FIFA, the global soccer association, has very publicly taken a stance against racism from fans with some of the world’s most popular stars.
- From The Washington Post