Hockey acted accordingly during social justice crisis


Let me start off by saying that the point of this blog is to post about the sport of hockey. When we moved on from the Battle of New York to Battle of Hudson, it was originally with the idea of a unique rivalry between the Rangers and Devils. The Big Apple versus The Garden State. The bright lights and big city against the little brother in Newark.

Unfortunately, these are hard times for everyone. Personally, I don’t believe in tying together sports and politics. I’ve always felt that sports should be enjoyed by fans as a nice distraction from our everyday lives. However, we are where we are.

As a society, we can do much better. No matter what side you’re on, or if you’re like me in the middle. I believe that we all are entitled to express our opinions. That’s our freedom of speech as written under the First Amendment. Somehow, that’s been lost on some people. I am not here to take sides. Only to voice my opinion on a polarizing subject.

What took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin the other night shouldn’t have happened. It could’ve and should’ve been avoided. Jacob Blake was the latest black person to be shot by the police. Having read up on it, two mistakes were made. One by each side. Law enforcement have a tough job. I can’t put myself in their shoes. I’ll echo the same for any black male or female. They experience miscarriages of justice and endure a lot.

Here’s where I stand. If the cops arrest you, you comply. Don’t resist. Even if they’re wrong, please cooperate. If more people listened, many of these awful tragedies wouldn’t occur. In the complex circumstances surrounding those who resist, the police should do everything in their power to avoid shooting a victim unless justified. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. What can’t happen is a victim becoming another statistic. There are too many recent examples. I’ll list three. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Rayshard Brooks.

Having also researched on Jacob Blake, he did have a criminal record. There was an arrest warrant out. It isn’t known if the four cops involved knew about it. This was over Blake attempting to break up a domestic dispute. Not what he did previously. There’s no justification for seven gunshots being fired into his back. He’s now paralyzed from the waist down. At least he’s still alive.

Did Jacob Blake resist? Yes. Did he reach for a knife while wrestling with the police? Apparently. Nothing good comes out of defying an order from a cop. They have a badge for a reason. Whenever guns are involved, bad things can happen. I don’t believe he needed to be shot that many times. However, we must still wait for all the facts to come out. Something nobody does today.

I’ve repeatedly said that racism shouldn’t exist. We live in a imperfect world. Not all people are good. The biggest issue with social justice is the lack of communication and understanding between both sides. It’s become the ugliness of identity politics that’s continuing to destroy society. There’s too much divide. It shouldn’t be that way.

Place the blame on the people we elect. All they do is fight like children and create more problems. They don’t care. Ditto for the mainstream media, who are vultures that negatively influence viewers. It’s time to tune them out. I don’t watch any news channel. I hardly watch television. I can pick up a game online or listen to the radio. I follow shows on Netflix and catch music videos on YouTube. Plus I write.

As hard as it is these days to enjoy anything due to the ridiculousness of 2020, I still love hockey and baseball. Tennis as well. Even with a global pandemic limiting some of my favorite players from participating, I’m looking forward to the US Open that starts on Monday. Hopefully, it goes well.

I’ve continued to follow the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even as September approaches with the Conference Finals likely not before Labor Day Weekend, I’m still excited to see what happens. Of course, there’s one team I don’t want to see win. The second one is who Hasan would hate to see succeed.

When the NBA decided to postpone their slate of second round games on Wednesday followed by MLB teams, WNBA and MLS, it was only a matter of time before the NHL followed suit. They were getting a lot of criticism from people. However, the time frame prior to the Lightning playing the Bruins wasn’t ideal. So, they went ahead as did the Avalanche and Stars later that night.

The thing about jumping to conclusions and judging people before getting the chance to know them is that it’s wrong to assume anything. Anyone with common sense knew the NHL would address the important issue on Thursday. The NHLPA led by African American players Ryan Reaves, Matt Dumba and Evander Kane of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, all spoke out about Jacob Blake due to racial injustice. They came to an agreement with the league on postponing games last night and today. A silent protest in support of equality. An appropriate action.

Even if I feel there are better ways to accomplish the goal everyone wants, I understand why they sat out. As did the Mets and Marlins after taking the field only to pay tribute to Jackie Robinson with 42 seconds before placing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt on home plate before leaving. My suggestion is that if the athletes who get paid a lot of money to play a sport want to make a difference, then be active in communities. Play games. Auction off jerseys with proceeds going to charities. Donate to good causes to bring more attention to the issue of social justice. Actions speak louder than words.

My one gripe with some of these players (particularly NBA) is we never hear anything from them when a kid is killed for no reason. I won’t get into specifics except to say there seems to be a double standard. Where is all the crying over Cannon Hinant, Davell Gardner or Brandon Hendricks? Crime is way up in the city and continues to be a huge problem in Chicago. We never hear anything from the social justice warriors who are so outspoken.

I get it. Systematic racism is unacceptable. Stand up for your right is a powerful message delivered by Bob Marley in one of my favorite songs, “Get Up, Stand Up.”

Nobody wants to have the discussion about hardened criminals who commit heinous acts. It’s as if that problem doesn’t exist in America. Who’s going to change it? Not the violent protestors who take things too far by destroying public property. Definitely not any progressives who want to defund the police and put our lives more at risk. I can list more.

The worst part is when you have so-called leaders encouraging irrational behavior. I’m proud of Staten Island for having organized protests that didn’t cross the line. They were peaceful and unified with police.

Is there a place for social justice in sports? As long as they are directly involved, yes. I wish there were more black hockey players. However, the cost of the sport remains challenging for the poor community. The league needs to continue expanding programs such as Hockey In Harlem so more minorities can play at a young age. Diversity is always talked about.

If Hockey Is For Everyone, then do something about it. There’s a unique opportunity here for the sport to increase its growth and popularity. They can attract new fans with the unconventional postseason being played in the summer and fall. With the Stanley Cup awarded in late September or early October along with the NHL Draft featuring Alexis Lafreniere in a strong class, the NHL has a chance to gain from all of this.

With strong leadership at the top, I remain optimistic about the future of the sport. Enjoy the rest of the playoffs.

Derek can be followed on Twitter.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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