One hockey season, hold the bananas

Racism takes many forms. I had honestly hoped that we’d see an end to the rather stupid and juvenile throwing of bananas onto the field as a racist statement against (primarily) athletes of African descent and/or with darker skin. If you haven’t heard much about it, it’s because mainly it happens in soccer games outside the US and Canada.

And until recently, exclusively in such games, but alas, that’s no longer the case. reported on the incident which occured in London, Ontario, Canada, during a preseason game between the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers, where Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was targeted by a banana or a banana peel thrown on the ice at him. The COO of the Flyers owners made his statement based exclusively on the player safety issue, referring only to “an object [thrown] onto the ice” in a statement. This was followed up by this official statement from NHL Comissioner which makes even more cursory reference to what actually happened, only denouncing it as an “obviously stupid and ignorant action” which “is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario.”

I prefer to call it what it is: flagrant racism that has no place in any sport, certainly not profesional hockey in North America. It is most unfortunate that the guilty party was not identified. I hope this person is found, and barred from further attendance of hockey games anywhere in the NHL. The consequences for flagrant hate speech which has the additional effect of endangering players need to be severe, lest this kind of hooliganism become commonplace across the US and Canada.