On November 24th, 2007 I went to watch the Sens take on the Philadelphia Flyers (shouldn’t they be called the “Phlyers”?). I went to the game in unusual company; with my good friend Jojo (who I can’t remember going to any other games with despite the fact that’s he’s a big Bruins fan), and my friend Michelle, who I don’t know to be much of a hockey person at all.
We arrived a bit early and tailgated out front of the arena for a while, taking in the sights and watching a fan-video looping on the big outdoor screen. Entering the venue, we took our seats and watched as more fan videos played on the big video projector that dangled above centre ice.
After a few minutes Michelle turned to me and said, “I can’t believe how non-inclusive this is!”
“I mean,” she said, already agitated, “It’s just white person after white person on the screen. They haven’t shown a single person of colour or anyone of any other culture on the screen except for white people!” She was getting indignant.
“But…” I stammered, “…it’s hockey! With very, very few exceptions throughout history every player in the NHL has always been white.
“It’s a Caucasian-dominated sport and our team is in a primarily white city,” I continued. “I think they are showing most of the people of colour that are at the game, which is basically none!
“It’s not like this is basketball or football,” I said, trying my best to sound logical and not racist.
“Well, don’t even get me started on how few women have appeared on the video,” she said, crossing her arms.
And then I sat there watching a bunch of rich white guys chase another bunch of rich white guys around the ice while 20,000 white people (primarily men) cheered and jeered from their overpriced seats. And I realized that Michelle had a point.
Change doesn’t often just happen, it usually has to be encouraged. Are bike lanes getting installed all around Ottawa because Ottawickians are naturally disposed to cycling, or is it that biking culture is on the rise in Ottawa because the city took the initiative to build bike lanes? I think the latter.
So maybe with a little encouragement and exposure hockey can become a little more diversified. If so, it can only help the game. Athletes are athletes, and the more you have playing a particular game the more superstars you’re going to find.
In this vein I must say how cool it is that the CBC broadcasts a Punjabi version of Hockey Night In Canada. How much of a stretch could it be to master a hockey stick in place of a cricket bat?
The Senators lost, by a score of four to three. I lost one to nothing.