Hockey is not a sport that you expect to see many people of African descent playing. For the most part, the sport is exclusively played by men of a much lighter complexion. Hockey originated in Canada so, naturally, the majority of National Hockey League players are Canadian. The rest of the players hail from the Scandinavian countries, Eastern Europe, Russia and other countries where the climate is much colder. There are also a fair share of American players, most of them hailing from the Northern or North Eastern United States. However, there are a few players in the NHL who are of African descent. There are currently about 30 players who fit this description. In fact, one of the leagues best players, Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames, is of Nigerian descent. The public and players, however, may not be so thrilled that there are African players succeeding at the professional level.
Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers was a victim of racism last week during an exhibition game in London, Ontario, Canada. Simmonds, a Black Canadian, was about to attempt a shot during a shootout when a fan threw a banana onto the ice, insinuating that he is a “monkey”. While the league condemned the act and the fan was arrested, Simmonds said he comes to expect such acts. This is not okay. Blacks have just as much a right to play the game as anyone else and it’s sad that a player sees such acts as the norm. If Blacks are talented enough, they should be able to play the game without feeling as if they are not welcome or equal to their counterparts.