Black Ice: The Color of Hockey
According to Webster’s Dictionary the definition of ice is water frozen in the solid state. Most water is tasteless and colorless, depending on where you are in the world. Colorless is the way I've always viewed people. My mother always taught me what was inside the shell, not outside was most important. I approach everything with that mind frame and sports are no exception. The only colors I care about are my team's colors, yet being a black NHL fan my skin color seems to be the focus.
Hockey has always been a white male dominated sport. The NHL was the last major sport to integrate in 1958 when Willie O’Ree because the first player of African decent to play in the NHL for the Boston Bruins. In 1998 O’Ree was appointed Director for youth development for the NHL/USA Hockey diversity task force. Since the NHL’s integration there has been dozens of players of color in the league and today there are between 14-20 active players.
I‘ve been a hockey fan, more so a Washington Capitals Fan since 1999, when my cousin introduced me to the sport. Attending the games, it was noticed that I was one of very few females and even more noticeable, black females in the arena. I didn’t notice other spectators did, I even received some “what are you doing here” looks. I never let that deter me from attending a game.
For the most part no one has ever made me feel unwelcome at a hockey game, however, I always seem to catch people off guard when I talk about hockey or wear my team paraphernalia. I was in a sports store the other day in the Capitals section and the clerk, as if I was lost said, the "Redskins items are on the left." I have had even had people ask “How can you like hockey, you’re black?” That’s like saying white people can’t like the NBA because the league is predominantly black.
I do recognize it’s not a sport that has an overwhelming black fan base; however we need to move beyond having a one track mind. Why should the color of your skin limit you from what you like and don’t like? The next person that asks me about being black and liking hockey will get cross-checked.
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