By now, it’s not exactly news to anyone that major events in culture bring out the ugly on Twitter in a big way, but it still made me so sad to see Bruins fans react to their team losing to the Capitals in overtime on a goal by Joel Ward, one of not very many black players in the National Hockey League, with ugly racist outbursts. Sports history in Boston are a mixed bag when it comes to racial equality. The Bruins were the team that integrated the National Hockey League, and the Celtics were the first integrated National Basketball Association team. The Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to integrate, giving Jackie Robinson a tryout only under pressure from the Boston City Council, and when they did bring on a black player, deliberately choose Pumpsie Green, who didn’t have the chops to be a first-stringer. Their loss in the 1967 World Series may have been in part due to the team’s lingering racism and failure to go after the best players. One of the smartest things the team’s current ownership group ever did was decide to discuss that legacy directly and to take actions to rebuild the Red Sox relationship with Boston’s black community. But it’s easier to clean house on an institution than to move all the people with ties to or affection for that institution forward. This kind of reaction is a disgrace to the Bruins legacy, and it might be nice if Bruins players and management spoke up and said as much.
I missed this while I was in a screening, but a reader is kind enough to point out that the Bruins have stepped up with a statement: “”The Bruins are very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night. These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization.” Good on them for speaking out, and for naming these kinds of outbursts for precisely the pathetic things they are.