The Philadelphia Flyers are playing a hockey game tonight.
There are still protests happening across the country. The officers that shot Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, Michelle Cusseaux, Jamel Floyd, Justin Howell, Sean Monterrosa, Aura Rosser, and Alton Sterling are still not arrested, while there are countless others that died due to police brutality. Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back seven times, is paralyzed and was handcuffed to his hospital bed until last night. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old who crossed state lines with a semi-automatic rifle and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber (and injured Gaige Grosskreutz) — who were protesting police brutality — roams free despite not showing up to court, with the judge agreeing to delay the hearing for a month.
There are a lot of problems in this country, and there have been a lot of problems in this country for a while. Although sports can be a great distraction, they should be a reward for a functioning society. Not a society where leaders don’t take a global pandemic seriously, and certainly not a society where killers roam free and systemic racism, police brutality, and other social injustices are not addressed.
Watching the Flyers game on Wednesday while the Milwaukee Bucks and NBA started the strike gave me a weird feeling. Yes, the Flyers were winning, blew a lead, and eventually won in thrilling fashion — well, it typically would leave fans feeling thrilled. Instead of enjoying the win, things snapped back to reality almost immediately after Phil Myers’ goal.
The NHL had a rather hollow “moment of reflection” for Jacob Blake on Wednesday night in one of their two games after the NBA, MLB, WNBA, and MLS had already cancelled most (or all) of their games. But the NHL played on.
On Thursday, the NHL joined the rest of the sports leagues and postponed the games on Thursday and Friday.
We here at Broad Street Hockey also decided to go dark on Thursday, in solidarity with the athletes striking across the country.
Those sports leagues, the NHL included, took a few days to address the issues at hand and, at the very least, try to start a conversation — or much more. Those two days allowed some time for the players to come together and support one another, particularly the Black players who have felt alone in their fight. The Hockey Diversity Alliance is doing a great job with the league and players to detail what needs to change and what can be done to help.
Then, almost unbelievably, Sam Carchidi opened up the Flyers’ media availability on Friday with this question.
“Can you guys forget about all the social issues for a minute and just focus on hockey” Fucking woof.
— Steph Driver (@StephaliciousD) August 28, 2020
Carchidi quickly backtracked — well, two hours after Steph tweeted the video, so maybe not so quick — after being called out on Twitter, but the damage was done. He has shown his colors over the past few years, particularly with the Kate Smith drama, and asking the players to “forget about all the social issues” is insulting. If he wanted to ask a hockey question, just ask the hockey question. Or, at the very least, word it in a way that doesn’t make you seem completely ignorant.
There have been steps taken to start the discussion and help educate people about the systemic racism and other social issues marring this country. But those are just first steps. We have yet to see true change and have no crystal ball to look into to see how those steps will impact the country. People are hurting. People are fighting. People are having difficult conversations, but those types of conversations are the ones that need to happen the most.
But life goes on. Sports go on (for now). Hockey goes on.
The Flyers are tied with the Islanders at one game apiece in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. Game 3 will be played Saturday night, and Game 4 Sunday night. Things will be back to normal, well, in terms of the hockey schedule at least.
But that doesn’t mean that everything is back to how it should be. There are still systemic problems holding back this country, and people that are still turning a blind eye to it. More importantly, however, there are people who are standing up for what is right and using their voice, actions, and doing whatever they can to support those in need.
Hockey may be back to normal, but the world is far from where it should be.
So if you’re one of those people that wants to throw themselves into sports as a distraction for a few hours and try to enjoy the game, fantastic. The Flyers are in the midst of what should be a great series.
If you’re one of those people that is never watching a game again due to a two-day delay for social justice, even better, there’s no room for you in hockey anyway.
If you’re in the middle and are unsure of how to feel, that’s perfectly okay. Take your time, try to see if you can watch the game and get back into things. Read about how to be a better ally. It’s going to be weird to jump right back into hockey after what has happened. There are going to be mixed emotions. Do what feels right to you.
Be kind to each other and do the right thing. We’re all in this together.
Black lives matter.