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"The egg came before the chicken, so you must listen"
Hamilton, ON • Canada • 22 Years Old • Male
None eggshmeg35 [email protected] [email protected] None
Today around Major League Baseball, African-American ball-players were wearing the #42 in honour of the great Jackie Robinson, known for being the first African-American baseball player to break the colour barrier. This got me thinking, should the NHL do the same for the first black hockey player, Willie O'Ree? O'Ree, in case you didn't know, broke into the league in 1958 with the Boston Bruins. He only played 45 games in his career, but he was still indeed a very talented hockey player. He beat the odds not only due the fact that he was black, but also because he was 95% blind in his right eye, due to an errant puck. He was able to somehow keep that a secret from management though. He endured many racist remarks from fans while he played, most notably in Toronto and Montreal. He won two scoring titles in the WHL between 1961 and 1974, scoring thirty or more goals four times. O'Ree continued to play in the minors until age 43, and finally retired in 1979. He paved the way for current NHL players, such as Jarome Iginla, Ray Emery, and Mike Grier. I'm not saying the NHL needs to do something now, just because of what the MLB has done for Jackie Robinson, but some recognition needs to be made for what this man did.
April 15, 2007 10:33 PM ET | Delete
No friggin' way.
April 15, 2007 10:58 PM ET | Delete
Care to elaborate?
April 15, 2007 11:03 PM ET | Delete
April 15, 2007 11:32 PM ET | Delete
That video clip from ESPN was excellent. I never heard that before. As far as honoring Willie O'Ree, I'm not sure how I feel about it. In a lot of ways, I'd like to think we just appreciate sport for what it is, not some platform for social, racial, and/or political point. In the grand scheme of things O'Rees impact on hockey was pretty insignificant from purely a "sporting" point of view. He certainly does not compare to Jackie Robinson's significance in his sport.
April 16, 2007 12:02 AM ET | Delete
I posted the video but I didn't leave a comment, so... Being colorblind would not be a bad thing. Why does everyone try to make a race issue out of stuff? We shouldn't have to honor the first black player anymore than we do the first Russian, or Czech, or Olaf Kolzig because he's South African. We are all "hockey players" we don't need to be divided into sub categories by race. When you see someone's name in the record books you can't tell if they are black or white or green or Mexican, so why should it matter? If everyone wants to be treated equally than we need to stop making separations and recognitions of color. A hockey player is a hockey player. The guy on the bench next to you bleeds red blood too. The only color that matters is the one on his sweater.
April 16, 2007 12:03 AM ET | Delete
The Cop is right. Honoring O'Ree would be honoring for the sole reason that he was a black hockey player. He broke a barrier, but he was insignificant in the grand scheme of things. So it seems a little condescending. There are also other issues.In the US, baseball was extremely popular among African Americans and they had to play in the Negro Leagues. They were truly segregated. And many say that the Negro Leagues were equal, if not better, than the talent in the white major league. But the white leagues wanted nothing to do with the Negro Leagues. This was the barrier that Jackie Robinson broke.If there had been a Negro League in hockey and the NHL didn't want anything to do with those players, despite their talent, then honoring O'Ree would be justified.
April 16, 2007 2:02 PM ET | Delete
No. I don't look at a player's skin colour. They're good or they're not. Honour them for their accomplishments, not their race.
April 16, 2007 2:33 PM ET | Delete
I don't know much about O'Ree, but it seems to me he didn't necessarily tear down any barriers. We're minority hockey players discriminated against, or was hockey just not very popular amongst minorities? It certainly remains rather unpopular in minority communities today, but basically what I'm asking is if there were many other black players who just could weren't allowed to play in the NHL way back when or if it was just a matter of there really not being many if any black players who had developed their talent to be able to play in the NHL?My guess is it was the latter. Hockey never has been very common in minority communities. It's not to say the higherups in hockey were completely free of racism, it's just that racism really had nothing to do with the situation.It's the same reason there aren't very many blacks in baseball again today. It has very little to do with actual racism, and way more to do with the fact that baseball isn't very popular in the mostly black communities anymore.The sports and leagues themselves may view this as a problem since they have goals to expand their game, but in terms of racism (and the faux-diversity everyone likes to take pride in) and what not, this simply isn't an actual problem.So, O'Ree probably shouldn't be honored as the first black player in the way Robinson was the first black player because the impact they had and had to have was completely different.It's a fair question though, and I think the discussion that comes from it is good to have.
April 16, 2007 10:44 PM ET | Delete
Thank you for posting that video lb33knight, it was very interesting. I agree that O'Ree was definitely not a groundbreaking player by any stretch of the imagination, but he was the first of something, and that takes alot of courage. We don't know who the first white hockey player was, but we know the first black, and in my opinion, that is something that should be recognized. Whether it's in the HHOF or something, it doesn't matter. I also agree that we shouldn't be pointing out who's black or who's white, but the fact is they were extremely discriminated against back then, and it took some serious guts to stand up to people when they were putting you down. Jackie Robinson is a more recognized groundbreaker because he turned out to be a superstar, but O'Ree still needs to be brought about when we talk about groundbreaking black athletes.
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