|Banana throwing an act of ‘blatant racism’, agent says||| Print ||
|Written by Ryan Bristlon|
|Monday, 26 September 2011 13:44|
The hockey community is outraged by the "blatant" act of racism against Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds during a preseason game in London, Ont. Thursday.
Simmonds was taking part in a shootout during the game at John Labatt Centre against the Detroit Red Wings when someone in the crowd threw a banana onto the ice, which landed just behind the skater.
Simmonds' agent Eustace King told thedailyplanet.com that this act was “blatant racism” and that fans need be informed that there is a code of conduct they should abide by.
“I’ve always said that just because we’re in sports, that doesn’t mean the issues that plague society are going to be invisible,” King said.
Retired NHL goaltender Kevin Weekes was involved in a similar incident in 2002. When playing a game against the Montreal Canadiens, the former Carolina net minder had a banana thrown onto the ice in front of him.
“It’s quite disturbing,” Weekes told thedailyplanet.com.
Weekes was in Washington, D.C., attending the Congressional Black Caucus, when the incident involving Simmonds occurred.
“One thing that this shows is that we can’t stop,” Weekes said. “Sports are something that should unify people – not divide people.”
King spoke of banning fans from arenas and the confiscation of season tickets as potential punishments for any fan caught participating in any derogatory behaviour towards any player.
“I think, moving forward, we need to get the fans to understand, because then the players feel protected. The fans will know that if they cross the line, there will be some kind of backlash,” King said.
In a statement released by the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario."
This incident was immediately a trending topic on Twitter. King mentioned the “tremendous social backlash” which included Weekes as one of the first to state their disgust via the social media tool.
The National Hockey League Player Association could not be reached for comment.
Simmonds scored the goal but the Flyers lost to the Red Wings 4-3.
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