Vermont is the least diverse state in the country. It is part of New England and is where I am from. Growing up in Vermont people root for the Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins because we have no professional team of our own. I myself am a die-hard Patriots fan. In my opinion Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time. I make no apologies for rooting for my team, Brady, and I root hard against any team the Pats play. I love my sports teams.
When I left New England to go to school in Ohio at the College of Wooster (great school), I was struck by how many people hated New England teams. Almost universally people couldn’t stand the Red Sox, Patriots, Tom Brady or the Bruins. I never understood why until I started asking questions. 99% of people I asked responded by saying that they hated New England sports teams because of their fans. Supposedly New England fans are overly arrogant, pompous, disrespectful and have an air about them that says “were better than you.”
No way. Were nice. At least Vermonters are. Right?
Last Thursday the Washington Capitols (the city where I live) defeated the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Great series. Every game was decided by one goal. Fittingly, the final game went to overtime and 31 year old Joel Ward scored the game winning goal sending the Capitols on and the Bruins packing. Its sports, Washington fans were elated, Boston fans were crushed. We all get up and go to work the next day. End of story.
Joel Ward is black. Immediately following his goal twitter exploded with language reminiscent of the 1950s. Or maybe it’s not reminiscent at all.
Posts on twitter included:
– “Haha that (slur) actually did something.”
– “The fact that a (slur) got the goal makes it ten times worse.”
– “We lost … To a hockey playing (slur)…. What kind of (expletive) is this.”
Racism still exists. This is a surprise to nobody. We’ve all seen it and hear about it on a daily basis. Maybe this surprises us because of how blatant it is. Unapologetic racism for all to see has shocked us. But are we really shocked? New England sports have always had a bad reputation. Come to think of it New England has always had a bad reputation of elitism. A reputation that I defended wholeheartedly. But I was wrong.
New England is a beautiful place, full of great people and places. I love where I grew up and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But there is a definite pretentiousness that haunts the six states. Maybe it’s because of the exorbitant amount universities and private schools producing entitled students, maybe it goes all the way back to the Puritans and their overly religious, white patriarchal society vision for society, or maybe it’s because New England is tucked away from the rest of the country and hasn’t integrated itself well enough.
Whatever the reason, Thursday’s comments put New England’s attitude on display for the country to see. Add New England to the list of places where racism is alive and well. It was a sad display of ignorance and hate and I was happy to see the Bruins organization and NHL condemn the comments. Reading about this in the news the next day made me think how this correlates to the larger sentiment that New England is a place filled with pretentious, entitled, self absorbed people. Its hard for me to defend our sports, fans, and region when things like this happen.
It’s sad. Not all encompassing. But it’s there.