Don is a commentator on Hockey Night In Canada, a TV show featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League. On Saturday night, he talked about the impending Remembrance Day, which honours our country’s veterans. In his discussion with Ron MacLean, Don complained that “you people” aren’t wearing the red poppy that is the symbol of this day. He talked about people coming to Canada for our “milk and honey”, enjoying the rights that were preserved by members of our armed forces. His comments about immigrants inspired outrage from sea to sea. Calls came for him to be fired. Today SportsNet did exactly that.
This incident is being widely covered by the media and this evening I asked myself why I was wanting to write about it. Hasn’t everything already been said? Maybe … but maybe not. Perhaps there will be something fresh in my voice.
Don has been extremely popular with his “Coach’s Corner” segment between the first and second periods of games. He’s sounded off on all kinds of subjects – hockey and non-hockey. I’ve admired his courage in speaking out, even when I’ve sometimes disagreed with his opinion. Many Canadians have suggested that Don should enter politics, even put himself in the running for Prime Minister.
Cherry has often criticized “soft” hockey players, such as ones who wear a protective visor. He’s criticized European players, whose culture of hockey has focused on skill rather than toughness. Don is connected with a series of “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em” hockey videos, which focus on big body checks and fights.
As I sit here, what comes is the thought “The world doesn’t need this.” We don’t need clenched fists. We need kindness. We need appreciation for our differences, including personality types and sexual orientation. We need inclusion. So far in his life, Don is not that. Boys and girls who play hockey need to be shown values that bring people together rather than ones who tear people apart. I’m glad he was fired. It’s time for the world to move on.
Apparently Ron MacLean gave Don a thumbs up after his anti-immigrant speech. Really? How sad. For years, Ron has been the voice of moderation and understanding on the hockey telecasts. But not on the weekend. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He made a mistake. Actually, on a Sunday night hockey show, he apologized:
“During last night’s broadcast, Don made comments that were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it,” he said on Twitter. “I have worked with Don for 30 years, and we both love hockey. But last night, I know we failed you.”
Thank you, Ron. We needed to hear from you.
We human beings have an opportunity to do life a different way. No longer can we be 7,000,000,000 egos each asserting their right to have it their way. No longer can we trample on the souls of folks who are doing their best to have a happy life.
I imagine from the quiet of my living room …
Who will be the next person to come my way?
And what will be my response to their presence?