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Hockey, privilege and maybe trying the right thing for a change

“Our sport is at a crossroads right now. While it’s easy to pile on to one star player for making ignorant comments, the reality is that ignorance is a byproduct of the immensely privileged lives that elite athletes live. And frankly, we all have to accept that we actively encourage athletes to live in these privileged bubbles. We celebrate athletes who can ‘tune out the noise.’ We laud athletes who are singularly focused on their craft.

“In reality, the privilege that lets a star athlete live in Montreal for more than a decade yet never learn about the terrible tragedy of the Polytechnique massacre is the very same privilege that allows athletes to escape consequences for committing acts of sexual violence. It’s a privilege that the institutions of the sport have built, year over year, in the name of letting players play; of prioritizing on-ice excellence; of shutting out distractions in pursuit of winning.

“We want our players to be role models, we hold them up as examples of what kids should aspire to become, yet we’ve failed – time and time again – to equip them to play this role at anything more than a superficial level. We need to do better.

“That’s why we’re announcing today a special program for all the players in our system. From the moment they join our program, our players will take part in a citizenship and societal engagement program. Experts on issues like sexual and gender-based violence, toxic masculinity, EDI, bullying and more will host workshops for our players and our players will be encouraged and equipped to continue these conversations among themselves.

“We’ve played a part in building these structures of privilege and isolation and it’s time for us to play a part in tearing them down too. We’ve failed these players and, in so doing, we’ve failed the community that looks up to them. That ends now.”

There. I wrote it for you. Take it and use it, free of charge.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Published inThe state of things
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