I wanted to take a minute to post as an entry here, some comments that i made on two other sites recently.
The discussion was started by this post at Two For Elbowing that i first saw linked to from this Puck Daddy entry. The quote that started the discussion was this:
"What, exactly, does this say about the relative power balance of Canada and the U.S. when the Leafs have to hire Americans to fix the franchise?"So I give you the ensuing discussion:
I think more to the point, what do statements like that say about racism (or more specifically nationalism) in hockey. I've never heard any other pro sport outside of nationalist soccer/futbol squads be so hung up on where their coaches and players come from, and the problems with racism going on in soccer leagues around the world is a massive problem right now. I'd hate to see hockey be next.That comment brought this response: "Paul- tell that to the people of Quebec." - to which i responded:
Who care if a Canadian is coaching a US team or a US coach or GM is working for a Canadian franchise. The only other time i've heard nationalities discussed in other sports is during the Olympics/world championships when they have their flags on their uniforms.
If they are wearing a Leafs sweater or a Sharks sweater - it shouldn't matter. They are just pros doing their jobs. Argue about them on their merits, not where they come from.
I definitely hear the most consistent nationalist/racist comments from Quebecers, but it is much, much wider than that. As a resident of Nashville and fan of the Predators, I/we have seen no small measure of this.Which then received this response
It is ironic really.
When i moved here, i thought that southerners in Nashville more were racist than average. I found the opposite though - not that there aren't people with issues, but on the whole the city is very accepting of Eastern Europeans, Canadians, Scandinavians, etc on the Predators and African American players on the Titans, and Hispanic players on the Nashville Sounds baseball team. Without question they are judged on their playing ability 99% of the time and comments are practically never made as to where they are from. We just don't care as long as they can play.
Meanwhile i hear things like this, where a lifelong hockey man in Ron Wilson and others are criticized for having the audacity to think they 'deserve' to coach on Canadian soil. You can think he is the right coach for Toronto or not, that he can handle the media pressure or not, that he will help the team or not... but that he should be allowed to coach based on his nationality?
That same post goes on to say "The mind boggles. I'm amazed the Canadian-centric media types haven't been screaming at the government to outlaw this already." meaning the hiring of coaches and GM's from the US.
I know they are dipping into sarcasm there, but seriously...I'm not sure what the situation is in Canada, but this level of discrimination is outlawed in the US. In fact the NFL requires that minority options are considered before hiring coaches.
It boggles the mind indeed. When will hockey implement something similar?
Paul, I agree with you on judging an individual purely on their performances and their ability to get the job done, and not where they are from. However, with some rare exceptions, I think most Canadians are not prejudice against players/coaches/gms from other countries, but rather, proud of the ones from their country.Which then led me to respond:
I don't think comparing Canada's love of hockey and their pride in their country's rich and honored history in that sport, to something as ugly as racism, is a fair statement.
Comparing it to African American players on the Titans or Hispanic players on the Sounds, and saying it doesn't measure up is like comparing apples to oranges. One has zero to do with the other. There are African American players on Canadian hockey teams; there are American players; there are players from countries all over the world who are not only on Canadian teams, but are worshiped by many Canadian fans.
I believe, a fairer comparison, using your Nashville as an example, would be to say that many people from Nashville are proud of their city's rich and honored history in country music. And some outspoken voices may say that the best country singers are from Nashville, and a country singer from Calgary, Canada or Tokyo, Japan should not be the headliner at the CMA Music Festival. But a few outspoken does not mean I should assume all everyone from Nashville agrees with these statements. Or that everyone from Nashville only likes Nashville country singers. Or even the bigger leap that you suggest above, that in fact they dislike every country singer outside of Nashville.
Again, with some rare exceptions, most Canadian hockey fans love the sport first, and are simply very proud of their country's rich history in that sport. And while some over zealous, proud fans, may come across pro Canadian at times, this 1) does not speak for all Canadian hockey fans; and 2) is a far cry from racism, IMHO. Hometown pride and racism are worlds apart! --buffettworld
Well put. And i do understand that.What do you think?
I just hear more comments like this from hockey than any other sport. I understand a certain amount of pride...heck...i'm originally from Texas. I know pride (and its excess...)
But comments like the one quoted on this blog and many others i hear around seem to me to cross the line. They aren't just pride ("Isn't it great that the world is playing 'our' game" or "we have the best hockey players in the world") but more bigoted ("all top hockey teams, players, and coaches should really be Canadian")
There certainly are voices out there saying that the CMA's should always be held in Nashville (much ruckus was made when they tried it in New York a few years ago), but i've only heard a very small, quickly ignored minority complain about country music being popular in western Canada or Australia. Most love the fact that the additional eyes and attention mean more fans and a bigger/better product.
To carry that analogy through, no one would suggest moving the hockey hall of fame to Tampa. But by the same token that i don't hear anyone suggest that they should ban people from outside the south eastern US from country music.
I guess that is the biggest difference to me: who i'm hearing it from. I hear these criticisms and bigoted comments about the nationality of players from main-stream Canadian press, not just a few random bloggers and comment trolls.
Best example i can think of:
Lidstrom being the first European captain to win a cup. It was a big deal, and was covered by the press. Very similar to Tony Dungee being the first African American coach to win the Super Bowl a few years back. The difference was that no major sports outlet or even serious radio talk show host would have stood up and said "a black coach has never won the Super Bowl so our team shouldn't hire a black coach". Meanwhile i've heard from major hockey writers and talking heads repeatedly (up until last week) that teams shouldn't make Europeans their captains, citing "lack of heart" and other ludicrous reasons to explain how they shouldn't captain teams.
Is it horrible? No.
Is it everyone? Not by any means.
But is it more pervasive in hockey than other North American sports and something that should be addressed and talked about? Yes.
(image courtesy of Lone Primate)