What It's Like Being A Fan Of One Of The Most Racist Sports In The World

What It's Like Being A Fan Of One Of The Most Racist Sports In The World

Dear NHL, I love you, but there are some things you need to work on.
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Willie O'Ree, Evander Kane, Devante Smith-Pelly, Wayne Simmonds, and P.K Subban: All of them are extremely talented men and trail-blazers in their own right. Besides being Black, what's another thing all of these amazing guys have in common? They helped me fall in love with the sport of hockey.

I remember being 4-years-old and trying to find a sport to get into. Baseball was great, football was cool, but there was something about ice hockey that enticed me more than any other sport. The ability to skate, hit, fight, move, and score on the ice created magical memories for me as a kid on the ice and in the seats. Madison Square Garden was practically my second home whenever my mom's boss offered free tickets for her and myself. The Mighty Ducks got me started, the New York Rangers taught me (and still count me as one of their biggest fans), and to this day I still drag my loved ones to games with me while I sit for the national anthem.

I love the sport of hockey. The feeling, the look, the atmosphere, the intensity. Everything. I could never tell you what exactly it was that made me fall in love with the sport, but I know I will be a fan until I can't watch anymore. It's no secret though, that the NHL's fanbase isn't home to some of the most progressive fans in the world. Ten years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, Willie O'Ree did the same in hockey. Bracing the cotton balls and racial slurs hurled at him just like Robinson ten years prior, O'Ree skated onto the ice and paved the way for players and fans of my complexion to find another sport we could love so dearly.

You'd think over fifty years would make a difference, wouldn't you? You'd be sadly mistaken. Over the recent years, players like Wayne Simmonds endured having banana peels hurled at him during a shootout (one on one play) in Montreal, and Devante Smith-Pelly most recently had the word "Basketball" yelled at him, after a trip to the penalty box for fighting a Chicago Blackhawks player in Chicago. They have had to deal with these problems for nearly their whole careers.

O'Ree said in an interview that you do not have to look back to his days of playing to find prominent racism in the sport, and he was right. The racism of the NHL and its fanbase isn't just saved for its players, as fans like myself aren't spared any less. Now, as my experiences are nowhere near as serious as those on the ice, it still continues to bother me that the thought of whoever I sit next to at a game, will not share the same views, or like me based on my complexion. I humanly cannot count the number of times I've heard the N-word spewed by fellow players on PS4 or Xbox when playing NHL branded games. I cannot count the number of times I've seen a customer clutch their bag, or had to rethink about the things someone has said to me as a sales associate at the NHL Store in Manhattan. Any racist remark, or action, is unacceptable in every way.

Whether it be a fan or player, the NHL and its fanbase needs to understand that hateful comments or actions done to these people are not acceptable, even though you cannot really expect more from a sport that's been heavily populated by white men since its inception. I guess my plight is really with those in charge of the NHL. As we have a month dedicated to "Hockey Is For Everyone," it still doesn't fill the void left by the NHL for rarely ever acknowledging Black History Month, or trying to expand the game to urban areas mainly consisting of Black and Hispanic residents.

There should be no reason why J.T Brown, a winger for the Anaheim Ducks organization, received death threats after raising his fist during the national anthem before playing against the Florida Panthers when he played for the Tampa Bay Lightning. For months, I've been torn between the young activist in me and the hockey fan I've been since I was four. Columbus Blue Jackets coach, John Tortorella, stated that he would bench players who sat for the national anthem during the World Cup Games in 2016. A prime representation of white privilege, it's people like Tortorella (who is a former Rangers coach mind you) that prevent me from being fully dedicated to the sport. It's people, like the ones I encounter every game, who prevent the NHL from becoming such a beloved sport to more and more people across the U.S. because of their ignorant views.

Of the roughly 982 total NHL players who have stepped on the ice this season, only around 30 are Black. I've heard words of those within the fanbase that say hockey players are real men which is why they don't kneel during the anthem, or that the NHL needs to not put itself within political views. Those who have said that fail to remember that 1) Most NHL players are white, and 2) Opening the game for "all" people is not meddling within political views. If you do not believe that Black people, Hispanics, women, or people within the LGBTQ community do not deserve to be apart of the NHL community, then you are an asshole.

Dearest NHL, I love you, but you need to work on your image.

Cover Image Credit: SB Nation NHL / Twitter

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything
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They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.


Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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Second-Half Success: Essential Components For The Atlanta Braves

A look into what it will take for the Braves to be successful in the second half of the season.

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As the All-Star break comes and goes, the second half of the major league season is in full swing. Many teams are battling through their divisions to take first place and receive a spot in the playoffs. However, no battle has been closer than that in the National League between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams are having stand-out seasons as they go back and forth between first place in this division. The Atlanta Braves are currently .5 games out of first place as the begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. Let's take a look into three keys to success that are essential to the Atlanta Braves.

Pitching

Pitching has been the story of the season for the Atlanta Braves, but not in a positive way. Although they have All-Star Mike Foltynewicz and veteran Julio Teheran as starters on the mound, problems often arise as the relievers and closers enter the game. The lack of depth and strength in the bullpen creates problems for the team by putting a lot of pressure on the offense to score large amounts of runs. However, just before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Braves attempted to add some depth to their pitching staff by acquiring former Orioles Gausman and O'Day. General manager Alex Anthopoulos managed to acquire these essential additions without losing too many of the Braves' prospects, allowing for not the only present success, but also insurance for the future of the program.

Top Half of the Lineup

Throughout this season, the Braves' offense has been one of the most exciting in all of baseball. Stacked with two of the youngest, yet most explosive, players in Albies and Acuna Jr. and All-Stars Freeman and Markakis, the top half of this lineup determines the success of this team. Albies and Acuna Jr. have sparked the offense that has not been seen in many seasons, and if they continue to stay hot and find a way on base it allows power hitters such as Markakis and Freeman to be up to bat in big RBI situations. As a whole, the lineup needs to avoid leaving runners on base and resort back to fundamental baseball in order to score as many runs as possible. Acuna Jr. has recently taken the leadoff position, and consistency from him at this spot could allow for great success for this offense.

Play to Their Strengths

Athletic teams often focus on the weaknesses their team contracts, pitching would be the case for the Atlanta Braves, but if a team such as the Braves can play each game to their strengths they could obtain a lot of success. Youth has become a great advantage for this team, and it is something that needs to be capitalized on. Playing aggressively and putting pressure on opponents' defense and pitching by having long at-bats and being aggressive on the base paths. Not only will Abiles and Acuna Jr. be leaders of this aspect of the team, but also Camargo and Swanson who hold down the left side of the infield. By capitalizing on the youthful players, the team gives the veteran players to take control of the bigger situations and ultimately lead the Braves to the NLCS.

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