UPDATE: The Chicago Blackhawks have banned four fans from their home games for directing racist taunts toward Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
The Blackhawks also apologized to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals.
“Racist comments and other inappropriate behavior are not tolerated by the Chicago Blackhawks,” team spokesman Adam Rogowin said Monday in an email to The Associated Press. (AP)
By Jim Hagerty
CHICAGO — Two Chicago Tribune reporters are seeking the identities of four Blackhawks fans who were ejected from the United Center Saturday for making a racist chant at a Washington Capitals player.
When Devante Smith-Pelly, who’s black, entered the penalty box in the third period, four white fans, two wearing Hawks jerseys, started taunting the winger. One of them started chanting, “basketball, basketball, basketball.”
Trib writers David Haugh and Steve Rosenbloom are now calling on readers to help address the issue. One reporter wants a doxing and for the tables to turn.
“We need to know their names,” Rosenbloom wrote. “I do, anyway. I want them outed. If those four pieces of scum think it’s amusing to treat another human as a second-class citizen based on skin color alone, then I believe we should let them know how amusing it is to the rest of us when they are the ones being publicly humiliated.”
Haugh didn’t mince words either. It should be curtains for these four, he said.
“It should be their last Hawks game at the UC,” Haugh wrote. “Come to think of it, every one of Chicago’s professional sports teams should ban the offending Neanderthals from walking through their gates. Zero tolerance is the best way to fight intolerance.”
The fans were ushered out of the United Center after the incident that ended with a verbal exchange with Smith-Pelly.
The Blackhawks released a statement apologizing to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals. The NHL followed suit, saying fans at any league arena should expect to be ejected for crossing the line.
“The National Hockey League condemns this unacceptable and reprehensible behavior,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The League will take steps to have our clubs remind all stakeholders that they are entitled to enjoy a positive environment – free from unacceptable, inappropriate, disruptive, inconsiderate or unruly behaviors or actions and may not engage in conduct deemed detrimental to that experience.”
Rosenbloom says the behavior transcends what’s unruly. Fans deserve whatever blowback that comes instead of remaining in the shadows. After all, they flaunted their big-shot seats and deserve all that comes with them under the circumstances they created, he said.
“Those four loathsome fans might be a hit in the groups they hang with,” Rosenbloom continued. “Good. Let’s give them the big stage.”
Rosenbloom noted that the incident occurred in the middle of Black History Month and the league’s “Hockey Is For Everyone Month” campaign that promotes inclusiveness regardless of race, faith or sexual identity.
“I point this out not to underscore painful irony but to reinforce the need for education, no matter how obvious the concept that all men are created equal,” Rosenbloom wrote.
And while the incident was void of classic pejoratives, meaning the N-word, a slur’s a slur, the Trib noted. A chant charging that a black man belongs in the winter sport that comprises mostly black athletes is just as directed at Smith-Pelly’s skin color.
“That’s vile anywhere and unacceptable everywhere,” Haugh said. “Paying $500 for a seat behind the glass doesn’t buy anyone the right to act like a bigot.”
Capitals coach Barry Trotz addressed the incident immediately following his club’s 7-1 loss Saturday.
“There is absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “Disgusting. Athletes in our country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”
There have been 89 black players in the NHL in its 100-year history. They’ve included Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr, Nashville Predators star P.K. Subban and Anthony Duclair, who now plays for the Blackhawks. Former Blackhawks forward and coach Dirk Graham is also of African decent. R.
— Screencap, NBC Sports Washington