UA-59049186-1 What's Going On Makes Word Salad - Good if it Goes

What’s Going On Makes Word Salad

August Update Background

I was going to just let this blow over, but then Tim Baffoe said something stupid, so I guess we’ve got to talk about this now: back in 2012, Artemi Panarin was on a Russian TV show and when asked by one of his then-teammates “What is something you could never do?” Panarin replied “have sex with a black woman.” That was stupid. It’s Russia, and he was 20, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was stupid. He apologized, the team apologized, that should have been it. But then here comes Tim Baffoe.

Another year, another fantastic Chicago Blackhawks team on the ice. And another unfortunate incident that doesn’t involve hockey. And another difficult reconciliation fans must negotiate in order to just enjoy some hockey.

A 20-year-old from a different culture said something stupid. He apologized. He sounded sincere. Hopefully, he’s grown as a person and won’t say anything like that again. There. Negotiated.

Baffoe even acknowledges that it looks to be a stupid attempt at a joke:

The entire video clip (again, since deleted from YouTube) involved a lot of joking between the two Russians, and Panarin’s line seems to have been a really foolish attempt at cheap humor without clear malice. Not that there’s now license to brush it off.

Then he quotes Matt McClure for context on Russian culture:

Notes Matt McClure of the Faxes From Uncle Dale blog:

The point isn’t labored upon in the interview, it’s just completely passed over, treated as an off-handed joke. And coming from a then 20-year-old sheltered athlete in a country where there are hardly any black people, it’s easy to see where Panarin thought he was being a clever little ignoramus. Russia is not exactly the most tolerant place for marginalized people, and that was brought to light prior to the Sochi games when even its most beloved son in Pavel Datsyuk bent over backwards to condone his homeland’s governmental policy of oppression of LGBTQ people by passing the buck and saying “I am Orthodox.”

Pavel Datsyuk won the Lady Byng trophy four times. He’s one of the most respected players the game’s ever seen. That is not a bad person. The anti-gay policies in Russia are truly repugnant, make no mistake. If you’re surrounded by that kind of rhetoric, it can become ingrained in you. It’s unfortunate and I would hope that players from cultures like that take the opportunities available to learn, grow as people, and become more accepting of those different from them. Comments like the one Panarin made are seen differently in Russia than they are here, he’s acknowledged that they’re seen as hurtful and apologized for it. This did not need to be the story it became. Baffoe then turns his ire on the Blackhawks organization for their handling of previous incidents:

If I’m going to take the Blackhawks to task for notably using woman abuser and Nazi sympathizer Bobby Hull as an ambassador, conducting a brutal press conference during the Patrick Kane sexual assault investigation and reinstating a minor leaguer after playing dumb about him probably committing a sex crime and benefitting from a legal system stacked in his favor, I’ll acknowledge when they take the right step, as they did in words after former player Andrew Shaw’s homophobic slur during a playoff game last year (though they let the league handle the punishment).

Hull – yeah, that’s bad. I don’t understand that, either. As far as the Kane situation goes – I don’t know what information everyone had at that point. It was awkward, to be sure, but if the organization was confident that there was nothing to the allegations, and I don’t think it’s impossible that that was the case, then issuing a statement and leaving things there wasn’t a bad idea. They were in a no-win situation with the Garret Ross incident. Ross disseminated explicit photos of an ex without her permission, a crime in Illinois. He was initially charged, but those charges were dropped when it was determined he was in Michigan, which has no law against such actions, at the time. That is not “a legal system stacked in his favor.” That is two states having different laws. The facts of the situation weren’t in doubt. He did it and he’s a putz for doing it. But if he didn’t actually commit a crime, if you suspend him and he loses pay as a result, you’re asking for trouble from the players’ union. And yeah, they let the league handle Shaw’s punishment. That should be the league’s decision.

The Blackhawks have been great at charitably engaging with the Chicagoland community, and this is an opportunity to walk the walk to fix the hurtful talk a la Shaw becoming an LGBTQ ambassador for the Montreal Canadiens in order to really work to be more intelligent and use his position to help that community. Hopefully, Panarin has a similar unselfish desire to make this into a good thing with hockey fans of color.

Do…do you want Panarin to make a sex tape with a black woman? Because this reads like you want Panarin to make a sex tape with a black woman. I honestly have no idea how he’s supposed to “make this into a good thing.” It was a stupid attempt at a joke and given the nature of the comment, it’s probably best to just move forward.

Still, give me a year where it doesn’t feel like the team has sold its soul to move on from the hockey Dark Ages of Bill Wirtz only to become an annually problematic organization otherwise. Or at least a season in which I don’t have to feel like I’ve sold mine in order to enjoy great hockey. Because I’m tired of negotiating fandom with decency.

Let me know when you find a team where nobody ever does or says anything stupid. That’s not to excuse the stupidity, but rather to acknowledge that athletes are, in fact, human. They make mistakes just like the rest of us do. When they do, they should apologize and learn from their mistake. Panarin’s done the former, now let’s move on and let him do the latter.

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312


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