The other day, Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers allegedly called Sean Avery of the New York Rangers a faggot. The alleged part goes like this. A reporter asked Avery after the game, “Did he call you want we think he called you?’ Avery didn’t deny it. Simmonds said he wasn’t sure what he said. The league investigated and no disciplinary action resulted.
There are a couple of interesting back stories here. Only days before, a fan threw a banana onto the ice just as Simmonds who happens to be African-American was preparing for his shootout attempt. He called the incident unfortunate.
Sean Avery, perhaps the greatest pest in league history, not only is not gay, but he made public service announcements in support of gay marriage just prior to New York changing its law.
My first reaction to the story was a shrug. Hockey is arguably the fastest, most emotional, most violent sport. Hitting and hitting hard is part of the game. Fighting is not only condoned but encouraged. Taunts are constant. Calling somebody a name, any name seems pretty mild.
On top of that, he didn’t say he was going to kill him which Avery allegedly said he would do to Simmonds’ teammate prior to the incident. That would appear to be OK. He didn’t call Avery a portion of the rear anatomy. He didn’t say he had sex with his mom. Those would get a pass.
Which made me stop and think. Of all the things that Simmonds could have called Avery, of all the horrible nasty names that he could have used, he called Avery a faggot. In other words, the worst possible thing Avery could be is homosexual. And that is an underlying attitude that must change.
If the allegations are true, I don’t believe Simmonds homophobic. All of us say things in anger, in the heat of the moment and they really don’t mean much. Brian Burke whose son was gay, said that it was habitual rather than homophobic but that the league should be addressing the issue.
And of course it should be addressed. Had Simmonds admitted to making the remark a real learning opportunity might have occurred about the harm that results from verbal harassment. We only have to look as far as some teen suicides this summer for evidence.
But as much as that opportunity was lost, I am also amazed at what standards we hold our sport celebrities compared to our politicians. Wayne Simmonds allegedly said something stupid and thoughtless. It was directed at someone who was in no way harmed by the remark (although - for sure - it did to some degree perpetuate the idea that homosexuality is wrong).
But just days before the hockey fiasco, the Conservative Party of BC elected as its party president Pastor Reed Elley who as a Reform MP made these remarks.
[quote]“A gradual blurring of the sexes has occurred that gave young men growing up in many female-dominated, single-parent homes an identity crisis,” he declared during debate in 2000 on legislation extending rights to same-sex couples.
“This led to a rise in militant homosexuality, a coming out of the closet of gay men and women who also demanded equality. The things that had been considered improper went looking for a desperate legitimacy.”
Read more: vancouversun.com/news/Opinio … z1ZOjzBqiN[/quote]
Maybe his opinions have changed over the past decade, but I doubt it. The leader of Pastor Elley’s party, John Cummins, said this spring that homosexuality was a choice and that gays didn’t need special human rights protection.
For some reason, hockey players get scrutinized much more for inappropriate comments made in the heat of the moment than do others who speak in measured tones without the pressure of some jerk shoving a stick up his nose.
Wayne Simmonds might have been stupid but he is not scary. I wish I could say the same of others who exert much more influence.