In an exhibition game on Thursday, September 22nd at Labatt Centre in London, Ontario, Wayne Simmonds experienced a starting jolt of racism in the form of a banana tossed his way by a member of the audience. Presumably a racist gesture.
He was in the process of preparing for a shootout, so the incident was particularly noticeable. The Philadelphia Right Wing stated to the Associated Press afterwards:
“I caught it from the side of my eye. It was a banana. Hopefully, that wasn’t directed towards me being black, because if it was, that’s just somebody being ignorant…You learn to deal with it.”
Peter Luukko, The president of Comcast-Spectacor, the sports firm which owns the Philidelphia Flyers, told the media:
“It appeared as though a fan threw an object onto the ice during the shootout. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to identify the individual… At the end of the day, this doesn’t affect anything. It’s just one idiot, it’s just unfortunate, and we’re going to put it behind us.”
Wayne Simmonds is just one of about 29 African-American players in the National Hockey League, out of the 660 listed. That’s roughly four percent.
You’d think NHL players would encounter less racism than other sports due to the courteous and less pompous image of the mostly Canadian players, compared to say, those in the NFL or NBA.
That positive stereotype mostly applies to the team members, not the fans. Fans in every sport are sometimes crazy and lewd and it’s no different for hockey, though racial actions of this nature are very surprising and unusual.
[It’s too bad they couldn’t “identify the individual,” cause I think a few of his teammates and fans might have something for him, in the form of a fist to his ignorant peel-tossing cheekbones]