Friday, April 27, 2012

Ashamed to Be a Bruins Fan Today

...and it's not why you think.

Sure, the B's kind of spit the bit a little; losing in the first round is never acceptable for a defending Stanley Cup Champion.  As a fan I'm upset and disappointed, but not ashamed.

I'm a season ticket holder, and unlike baseball and football, that means that you're guaranteed your seats throughout the playoffs and the Championship.  Last year, the tickets I sold to the Stanley Cup Championship games alone - to say nothing of the playoff rounds - made me almost $5,000. So as a season ticket holder, I'm deprived of a prime money-making opportunity and I'm upset and disappointed, but not ashamed.

After the Bruins lost, there were a number of angry Tweets aimed at the Capitals and the dude who scored the overtime game-winner, Joel Ward.  That would normally make me grimly happy, but not ashamed.

I'm ashamed because rather than call Ward lucky, or a hack, or a no-talent bum, or a flopper, or any one of a dozen things you can say about a hockey player when you don't like him, a good many of these tweets called him a nigger.

And that makes me ashamed.  Because it reinforces every negative stereotype about Bostonians, about the complexion of hockey fans, and the ignorance of the world around us.

This guy, Joel Ward, he'll never be confused with one of hockey's bright lights.  He spent 10 years between major junior and the AHL before breaking in to the bigs five years ago.  Never scored more than 20 goals - scored 6 goals all regular season.  Just one of hockey's grinders on a third or fourth line - if he's on your team you like him OK and if he's not he's just a random piece of shit enemy sweater.  And that's all good; hockey is a game where it's ok to hate your opponent, in fact it makes for better hockey when you do.  And of course fans follow suit, and that's OK too. And yes, he's one of the few black hockey players in the league.

But to call him a nigger is just embarrassing to the game. To take what has to be thus far his career highlight - literally the highest point he's attained in a lifetime of hockey - and cheapen and degrade it by calling him a nigger is just the lowest thing you can do.  And it's not like these tweets just shout the word at him and call it a day.  Here are some examples (and I'm including the name of the sender in hopes that someone out there flames him but good):

Joel ward you fucking nigger you suck 6 goals all season you fucking plug nigger bitch

stupid nigger go play basketball hockey is a white sport zvanasse30

It sucks that the nigger scored the goal. colinalexanderr

Do I need to go on? Jesus Christ! It's 2012!  I don't mean to sound naive but I'm kind of surprised that this level of hatred still exists. 

As a kid growing up in suburban Boston, a period when the B's made the Stanley Cup Finals three times in six years (70, 72, 74) and won twice, my childhood was Bruins-heavy.  We had a Bobby Orr jigsaw puzzle.  Every family had ceramic Orr and Espo figurines in their house.  And even though I didn't become a ravenous hockey fan until some time later (think Bourque - Neely - Janney, about 25 years ago), the Bruins were kind of the birthright of every Bostonian my age.  And until now it was something I could take pride in.

But these idiots and their ignorant rants against this guy - I just can't believe it.  It stuns me.  

Listen, say what you want about the guy:  he's got limited talent, he got supremely lucky being in the right place at the right time for the juiciest rebound known to mankind, whatever. That's actually true (even though the least talented NHL player still has more talent in his pinky than 20 amateur players). But to call him a nigger in a rant is classless and low, and those who do it denigrate the sport and the team that they purport to love.

One of the very first things I ever wrote was an observation that we as a society give words more power than they deserve, and I still believe that.  I yearn for the day where the word nigger transitions in meaning to "dude" or "guy" and has all racial connotation stripped from it - in other words to rob the word of its negative power - but that day has not yet come. This whole episode is just sad. 

I think this is what the people of Vancouver felt when they looked up from their tv's having lost the finals last year to find their city in flames: embarrassed for their city and tarred and feathered by the brush of public opinion, even though they themselves did nothing.

The hockey world - indeed the world at large - has a darker view of Bostonians today because of these people and their ignorance, and I have a difficult time saying that the world is wrong.


  1. Just from following your links one guy has apologized and the other two links no longer exist.

    However, I've grown up in supremely racist towns and was subject to hate all my life so I'm fairly desensitized to it all.

    It's a shame that it still exists.

    1. Good - I hope they got flamed out of existence, and good for the guy who apologized, however empty the gesture may be. What towns did you grow up in, Grrouch?

    2. My extended family mostly lives in Louisiana and Mississippi and they are the most ass-backwards racists in existence. They toss around the term nigger just in regular conversation like it's nothing. Growing up in Iowa which is surprisingly a very tolerant place it always shocked me. Heck, relatives of mine from a small community in Mississippi established and opened a private school in one summer simply to avoid the blacks who were going to be bused to their public school. This was only like 10 years ago. One time when I was visiting there were klansmen handing out pamphlets on a street corner.

      I do find the apology from the first guy a little empty though. It was basically, "Sorry I was frustrated. I'm not a racist though." Yeah, cause guys that aren't racists often take the time to type up something like that and send it out into the ether for all of the world to see.

  2. Very well written Gary and I could not agree more. As a die hard, anything Minnesota hockey fan. This is truly shameful. You are right, it just re-enforces the negetive stereo types that people have about hockey players, and fans.

    I feel really bad for Joel Ward. I will never have any idea what this type of rasicm feels like. We have a long ass ways to go apparently.


  3. I was born in New York and raised in DC, but I went to college in Alabama and I live in Tennessee.

    I used to say "everyone down here isn't racist, and the racist ones give the the good folks a bad reputation." But that's simply not true.

    There are no more racists in the south than anywhere else. The difference I've noticed is that racism is TOLERATED a lot more in the south. If you're a racist redneck you can get away with it, people just say "that's just what he's like, you can't change people."

    And that's bullshit. If you let it be known that racist bullshit won't fly in your presence, then those bitches shut their hole, fast.

    The difference between the north and the south, and I suspect certain parts of Boston, is that people tolerate that behavior. The retarded racists feel like enough people around them will agree with their feelings that they can openly talk about it.

    So posts like this are the best thing. You're pointing out that you disagree with what they're saying and your ashamed to be associated with them in any way.

    Good work.

  4. Unfortunately, the Red Sox have always had that reputation of being a team unfriendly to players of color. I don't know that I ever extrapolated that to think that Boston is a racist city, but those of us in the midwest are usually not too concerned with all of you living east of Ohio.

    Chicago has never had a great reputation in terms of race relations. Cubs fans in particular have traditionally been branded as racist on many instances.

    Several years ago I lived a bit south of where I live now. The racist stuff I heard on a regular basis was truly amazing.

  5. It is totally ridiculous. I am not sure that it will ever be totally gone.. I mean most kids these days are much more open and accepting about everything... but they also still think it's funny to say "Why are there no slow black people", "Cause all the slow ones are in jail!".

    People will always want to hurt other people unless the world changes drastically and our base nature changes. It is just easy to use hateful words to do it.

  6. I don't get the whole 'shame' thing. I'm angry, pissed off and disgusted, but no, certainly not ashamed because I happen to live near where he works.

  7. Well Jo that could be because you don't really identify as a Bruins fan. The ashamed bit comes in large measure because those asswipes and I share a common like, in this case the B's. I can totally get why you wouldn't be ashamed, but I hope you get why I am.

    1. I don't get why you are - but maybe I'm being to literal with the word. It's his shame not yours.

      If a sox player tweeted that nasty shiat, I would NOT be ashamed to be a sox player, but I would be disgusted with the asshole. Shame is such a personal thing imho. I suppose I'm getting too caught up in your word choice, but I do get your message.

    2. well, agree to disagree I guess. Maybe it's because hockey fans are, here in the States at least, the bastard children of sports fans. I dunno, I guess hockey fans share something that non-fans don't, and it's disheartening to see so many members of that club show such breathtaking ignorance.