Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Subban & Race: Some of Your Responses

My article on Subban's reception having nothing to do with race (a frame down) has generated lots of responses from people. Here are a few:


Totally agree.   He comes across as arrogant and self-centered.  He wants the spotlight to be on PK.  Where I come from in Southern Ontario, athletes like that get booed. Do leaf fans boo Daniel Alfredsson because he was born in Sweden? Of course not.


Extremely well-written and argued.  I admit I am among those who suspect that race is a factor with Subban, and although I am not entirely persuaded,  you make a very strong case.  

I agree that people boo Subban because they perceive him as arrogant. Iginla, Simmonds, Jones are not regularly booed the way Subban is, as far as I know.  And a post-racial world would be one in which we are free to boo players because we perceive them as arrogant, and not feel awkward doing so because they are black. And maybe that is where we are with Subban.  

But...  It's a loaded issue. It's loaded because there is so much history of white people taking major exception to black people they perceive as uppity or arrogant.  Just like women who display confidence are portrayed as bitchy.  There are double standards.  

Would people boo Subban if he where white and acted how he does on the ice?  Honestly, there is an argument that they would. But my sense is maybe not.  Maybe he would be treated as a talented phenom. It's really hard to know.  My sense -- and it's only a sense -- is that some of the boos or some of the volume is due to the fact that he is black, and a lingering discomfort that people unconsciously have with a black person not knowing their place. 


I agree that booing Subban is not racially motivated at all. In fact, I would go as far to say that the booing is almost somewhat of a compliment to him. He's a good player; very good player and one of the best defenseman in the NHL today. You boo him because there is that sense that you might "throw him off his game" or whatever. And he draws a lot more attention because he is arrogant. If Erik Karlsson did what Subban to the Ottawa fans in Montreal or Toronto, he would be booed loudly. Remember Alfredsson's mocking of Sundin? Ottawa fans loved it. Toronto fans never ever forgave him for it and he's good and in professional sports, that will cause fans to boo you. And I am sure that after last year's playoff beat down, it felt good for Montreal fans to see Subban do it too.

If PK had come into the league and had automatically been booed, I could see an argument being made for it being race motivated. But that wasn't the case. And after a few years of the triple high five, along with a few other antics, people have started to boo him. If he wasn't this good, people probably wouldn't boo him. He's a guy you hate playing against but you would love him on your team. In a way he's like Milan Lucic or Chris Neil; would love them on my team, would hate playing them. But Lucic or Neil do not possess anything like the skill Subban has and they are not dirty players, so they do not get booed. Maybe a better comparison even in my mind is Crosby. Frankly, I hate the guy- he's somewhat arrogant, complains a lot and makes excuses every time things don't go his way. But as soon as him or Subban put on the Team Canada jersey next month, I will be in love with them both cause they have so much to offer to the team.

Sadly, I think there will always be some crazy individuals who are racist and will boo or dislike Subban simply because of the color of his skin. Look at what some crazy individual did to Wayne Simmons a few years ago at a pre-season game. It's really sad, stupid and unnecessary.

As for Subban I don't think it is racially motivated at all.


I thought it was a frank, honest look at a sensitive subject...Your column was spot on and pitch perfect and this isn't the kind of thing that's going to go away anytime soon.


Race in hockey is an issue, as you pointed out, because there are so few non-white players.  Only biathlon is more racially homogenous.  This isn’t going to change for a long time primarily for economic reasons.  You’d be hard pressed to find a more WASP bunch of people than in a minor hockey rink for morning practice.  The reality of youth sports really comes down to cost.  Whether you’re a new Canadian or not, hockey is darn expensive. Basketball and soccer not so much. If you’ve got several kids (boys and girls) you’ve got to make economic choices.  Soccer and basketball are just more affordable and also much more girl friendly too.  


I just read your thoughtful piece on what you believe to be a lack of racism regarding the response to P.K., for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect and affection. I've also been quite frankly incredibly outraged at what I absolutely perceived to be some degree of racism where PK is concerned. 

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