Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Musings on Sports - Taking a Stand Against Racism - Minor League Hockey and Moshe Rabeinu

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago, I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Although I am more than just a casual hockey fan, I don't really follow the Canadian minor leagues. Other than very occasionally looking at the Hockey News to see how a Ranger prospect is doing, the junior leagues are a collection of teams which I know little about, other than they come from cities with funny names like Kamloops or Mississauga. But below the junior leagues are the midget leagues (based on age, not size) which serve as feeder leagues for Canadian juniors which serve as feeder leagues for the NHL (think HS football which supplies players to College).

With this introduction in place, I turn to a story which I recently heard about on one of those Sunday morning guest hosted sports radio programs. In mid-November, the NAPA Auto Parts Team was playing the Austin Trophies team in the Peterborough Minor Hockey Association Midget League. Two players were sent to the penalty box, and while they were there, the boys heckled one another. At the end of the period, the boys left the penalty box. During the break, the NAPA player told coach Greg Walsh that the Austin player had called him the N-word.

When the third period started, the Austin Trophies player who had done the name calling, came out to start the period. Walsh pulled his team off the ice and refused to continue the game.

As has been reported, the player who did the name calling was suspended three games. However, Coach Walsh was suspended indefinitely after the incident, as it is against the rules of Hockey Canada to refuse to field a team. In mid-December the league held a hearing as to the punishment for Coach Walsh and decided that he should be suspended for the rest of the season.

(To see news report on the incident and its aftermath, click here andhere ).

Coach Walsh knew that there would be a severe punishment, but had decided after a similar incident a few years earlier that he would not tolerate use of the N-word against one of his players and that the team would stand up against racism.

The story made me think about the story from the parsha which we read last shabbos. Moshe has been raised in the palace of Pharaoh, during a time that the Egyptians had enslaved the Jews and were using them to build their cities and storage facilities. One day, Moshe was walking and saw an Egyptian beating a Jewish slave. Moshe could have easily walked away from the incident as no one knew anything about his heritage. However, Moshe felt internally that it was unjust to allow this to occur and he intervened and killed the Egyptian.

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