Thursday, January 5, 2012

a blurry line full of ugliness

Krys Barch of the Florida Panthers, while playing against the Montreal Canadiens on New Year's Eve, asked opposing player PK Subban if he "slipped on a banana peel" after he fell on the ice.

Seems innocent enough...until I tell you that PK Subban is black.

A referee overheard the commented and Barch was tossed from the game, and now the NHL has weighed in on the issue and suspended Barch one game for the perceived racial slur.

Barch admitted to saying some inappropriate and vulgar things to Subban, but nothing racist.

PK Subban said that he didn't even hear anything.

I wasn't on the ice, and I don't know a single thing about Krys Barch so I can't comment whether I believe this was a racist comment because Barch is racist, or a racist comment just to get under Subban's skin, or it was quite possibly just another run-of-the-mill insult and not racist at all - but I do know that trash-talk and bad-mouthing are common practices in hockey (as I'm sure it is in other sports as well).

So what I want to know is - where is that line of what is acceptable vitriol and what is a punishable comment?

"you wear white after labour day!"

Is it OK to chirp about your opponent's mother? Wife? If the player is going through something personal - like a death in the family or a divorce or an addiction - is that open to taunting? What about calling someone "queer" or a "fag"?

I think the worst offender of truly tasteless chirping (both on and off the ice) is New York Rangers forward Sean Avery. Not only does he play dirty, but he doesn't even think twice about saying the most reprehensible things to other players. Racial slurs are his go-to taunt, as several players around the league have complained to being subjected to slurs such as "porch monkey" and "ni**er" from Avery but I guess he has never been overheard by a ref.

Not that he cares who hears - Avery has even hailed the cameras and microphones to him so he can have a national audience to hear his filth. In 2008, when he was a member of the Dallas Stars, Avery broadcast a comment about players in the league falling in love with his "sloppy seconds" (a player of the opposing team was dating Elisha Cuthbert, who had previously dated Avery).

He got a suspension from the league for that one, and the Dallas Stars refused to let him play with their team again.

I'm not saying that Barch is even in the same stratosphere as Avery - this is the first suspension of his career - and I'm not even saying that he made a racist remark; I just don't know why its acceptable behaviour to say the nastiest, most vulgar things in the course of a "game".

So, it's OK to call someone a faggot as long as you are wearing a helmet?

And how can you just shut that off when you remove your helmet? How can that not creep into your every day life?  I know 2 kids (I say "kids" because they are both under 20, and I am old), who routinely insult each other and those around them with chirps of "homo" and "queer".  And its a joke to them to make fun of those "tea-drinking fags".

They both play hockey.

Maybe I am just a over-sensitive girly-girl*, but it bothers me, and I'm glad to see the League taking a step in the right direction and sending the message that some things won't be tolerated.

*though i doubt it, because I gleefully toss around even the most loathsome of curse words


  1. I don't know much about hockey, but I do know Avery is an ass! Hockey is physical enough I'm not sure the trash talk is needed. At least be funny about it like they were in Mighty Ducks! :)

  2. I'm all for trash talking (like last week when I told my brother he must have been crying like a little girl over Dallas' loss to the Giants and, thus, couldn't return my phone calls)...but is it really necessary to be a racist? And why, oh why, do the assholes always have to come play in NY???

  3. I think, in general, sports are becoming more violent. As I piece together my next blog for FTS about paying collegiate players, I'm seeing more and more behavior that I personally find reprehensible. Although it took me a minute to understand the depth of the comment (as in, I had to read that 3 or 4 times to understand why it was a racial comment), I'm sure if you are black, you would get it immediately. Especially if you've dealt with such ignorance your whole life. I think trash-talking builds team morale, but I also think it can be taken too far. Attacking someone's personal life or attacking them personally is uncalled for and if the league didn't punish it, it could open the door for all sorts of violence...because even though they are in helmets and pads, they are still boys with feelings.