Well, here we are again. Me staring at you, wondering if this is finally the time you’ll do the right thing. You think you’re sick of it…
This one’s obvious. This one’s easy. You don’t have to wait around for the NHL to act, and as we all know there is no guarantee that they will. You don’t need to follow their lead. Take the lead, just once in what has been an utterly miserable year for a section (and a growing one) of your fanbase. For once this season, don’t marginalize a section of your fanbase, one that you’re happy to cater to when it’s a photo op and really a celebration of you. But this is the real test.
Suspend Andrew Shaw yourselves for tomorrow’s game. Don’t wait around for Gary Bettman or the DOPS or whoever else. Take. The Lead. Declare that no current or future player will be allowed to wear your jersey (with however offensive it actually might be in itself) and represent your organization this way. Make it clear it will not ever be tolerated.
Because it is simply inexcusable. “Boys will be boys,” and “in the heat of the moment,” are not viable explanations or excuses. It is in those moments that the true test of instincts and feelings come. It’s easy to sounds tolerant and accepting when you have time to prepare a statement (or have one prepared for you, which is assuredly coming for Mr. Shaw). We are not trying to change what players, and society overall really, say in public. We are trying to change what everyone truly feels. The former is just labeling.
Because here’s the thing, Andrew, if you’re able to process this through what I’m positive is a walnut-sized brain of yours. You probably have a gay teammate. If you don’t now you certainly have in the past. Simple math tells you that. You have a current or former teammate who sees your actions and cringes, and knows he can never tell you or anyone else and be exactly who he is in his workplace and passion. How are you going to look Chris Hine of the Tribune in the eye? I’m sure you don’t care, but a lot of us do.
And I don’t say this as someone with a spotless record. Not even close. You can find it now, I’m sure. After Game 1 against Detroit in ’09, I referred to Jiri Hudler as “Faggy McFagFag.” I’m ashamed of it. I’m repulsed by it. I thought simply being accepting and tolerant was more than enough and I could still use the language I wanted. I soon learned that’s wrong, and part of it was having McClure and Killion chew my ass out for it. But I’m not upset that you can still find it. It’s proof to me of how far one can come if they’re only willing to. An ex once yelled at me for using the term “cocksucker” and explained why. I haven’t since.
Look at the platform you have, Hawks. Especially just weeks after announcing a partnership with You Can Play (though their head Patrick Burke has run for the “Boys will be boys” shelter when it came time to speak out against on-ice behavior, so how much YCP is actually or willing to do is a raging debate in the gay community too). Prove to us that isn’t just more patting yourself on the back. It’s not just another hit on the website.
You may say that this goes on when the cameras aren’t rolling. This kind of talk is prevalent amongst a dressing room of sheltered farm boys who never made it past the eighth grade. That assumes that they can’t change or learn, but even if I grant that it’s about the next generation of players. Because there are kids who will be paying attention and who will learn about acceptance and what is bigotry and what is not. You can set a tone here. You can be more than just lip service and the chance to make another advertisement about the benefit you’re doing for the Chicago community.
Because goddammit, this city is a fucking mess. We have so many problems it’s horrifying. But if there’s one thing we do get right around here, and maybe I’m just being naive, it’s having a vibrant and supported LGBTQ community. And you seem to know this too, Hawks. Or you wouldn’t have made it a point to bring the Cup to the Pride Parade.
You have whiffed on every chance you’ve had this season to support those without a voice, or a very small one, amongst your fanbase. And not just whiffed, but Javy Baez-spin-on-your-heels-and-fall-into-the-left-handed-batter’s-box whiffed. You have fragmented and marginalized it. You even marginalized an actual victim of a sex crime. McD and Blunk, it would be nearly impossible for you to get any lower. The fact that you’ve had multiple chances to do this probably says something about your organization and your running of it as well.
But hey, I know you won’t. You don’t have the guts. You didn’t have the balls when it would have cost you nothing on an NHL ice with Garret Ross. You hid under the covers, and waited for the thunder and lightning to pass and hoped no one would notice. You did it earlier in the season. So did the NHL. And you’ll do it again. You’ve proven what you are.
And that’s fine. If you want to be the Raiders, be the Raiders. We’ll all know that #OneGoal really means that above all else. Nothing else is even counted, much less important. Make it clear that you’re just a business and all you care about all of your fans is when their wallets are open. That is what you do after all. But you know what? The more that becomes clear, the more and more people are going to start to be turned off and sickened by you. This organization is hated by other fans far more than you realize. And it doesn’t have to do with your constant winning, as you’d probably respond. Most didn’t hate you after a third Cup in six years. They do now. Why do you think that is?
You started down this road, and there’s a long way to go on it before you’d actually start to see the results you care about, on the balance sheet. But you keep moving that way. You might actually get there.