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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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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What It's Like To Be A Boston Sports Fan In 2019

Winning twelve championships between four sports since the year 2000, it's truly hard not to respect greatness. It's not only the talent that attracts the attention. Boston sports fans are known for being well... intense would be an understatement. He's why Boston sports fans are the way they are, and why they expect nothing less than winning from their teams.

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Anyone who's grown up in a New England diehard family has heard all the stories. Our parents and grandparents experience championship droughts as long as sixteen years and even eighty-six between World Series Championships. And yet, they still put on their jerseys, bought their tickets and showed up to root their teams on and pray for a miracle. The miracle came in 2004 when the Red Sox finally "reversed the curse" and defeated the St.Louis Cardinals to bring a title back to the city that had longed for one, for so long.

The Patriots had won two years prior and were on route to take another Super Bowl victory that following spring, and Boston fans couldn't have been capable of predicting what was to come.

Fast forward fourteen years and the Red Sox have won another three times, the Patriots another four times and the Celtics and Bruins each adding another victory to the ever-growing total. Kids are growing up in a time where all they know is the greatness that Boston sports teams have to offer. Our parents and their parents who waited years to see championship teams at times are now watching a generation who has the luxury of a Duck Boat Parade almost annually. So why the change in the performance of teams?

Boston sports have always attracted hall of fame talented athletes. Larry Bird, Carl Yastrzemsky, Teddy Bruschi and Bobby Orr, all legends in the sports world, yet teams today are outperforming and soaring past fans expectations. The difference? Boston still is attracting legends...I mean hello can you say, David Ortiz? Zdano Chara? TOM BRADY!? But these athletes aren't only bringing talent, they're bringing camaraderie, inspiration and a new attitude to a once hopeless city.

Even when the teams seemed hopeless, Boston fans still showed their pride and spirit for their city. Even when the Red Sox were still "cursed" Fenway Park managed to sell out seven hundred and ninety-four consecutive games. At the time, the Red Sox were arguably the worst sports team in MLB history, fans still stayed cheerful and hopeful that they would pull out another world series victory.

Overall, there's nothing like growing up a sports fan in New England, and it's really no surprise that so many other teams and people despise us.

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