Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TSN Article: Adrian Peterson's Indefinite Suspension & The Exemption List

Today, news broke that the Vikings had a change of heart and were suspending Adrian Peterson indefinitely by placing him on a mysterious Exemption List.

Click here for my breakdown.




TSN 1200 Radio: We Talk Adrian Peterson Indefinite Suspension

I join JR and Steve Warne on TSN 1200 to talk Adrian Peterson's indefinite suspension.

Click here to listen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bertuzzi Settlement: Who Generally Pays

The lawyers in the Steve Moore/Todd Bertuzzi lawsuit announced settlement recently. At this point, they are crossing the T's and dotting the I's with a view to formally dismiss the case with the Court. Once the dismissal is filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the lawsuit will officially come to an end. That should happen soon. That's correct - it's technically not over yet.

A common question that has been raised is who pays the Bertuzzi settlement, which may be in the tens of millions dollars. Is Bertuzzi on the hook for the whole amount? Do the Canucks or Orca Bay, the former owner of the Canucks, pay anything?

At law, an employer can be held liable for the acts committed by an employee in the course of his or her employment. This principle is called vicarious liability. That's why Steve Moore not only sued Bertuzzi, but also his employer Orca Bay.

So back to the question - who pays.

The terms of settlement in the Bertuzzi case are confidential so I can't speak to the actual arrangement. 

Generally, however, the lion's share of the settlement in these types of cases will be paid by the insurance companies. Bertuzzi's lawyer, Geoff Adair, was likely hired by the insurers.

There is a small wrinkle on the issue of the insurance coverage. Insurance policies typically will deny coverage in cases of criminal or intentional conduct. Bertuzzi committed a crime when he assaulted Moore and ended up pleading guilty to assault. That being said, Bertuzzi likely took the position that he did not intend to injure Moore, and as a result, the insurance companies may have stepped in and paid most of the settlement less any deductibles.

The other question I get a lot is this: how much is the settlement worth.

The short answer is I don't know and won't hazard a guess. The terms of settlement are confidential and will remain so. As well, anyone who is a party to the action will be contractually bound to keep the dollar amount strictly confidential, and breaching that agreement will come with penalties.

Monday, September 15, 2014

TSN Article: The Reactivation of Adrian Peterson

In this TSN article, I explain the charges against Adrian Peterson, his possible jail time, the legal options for the Vikings and what the NFL can do.



TSN Article: Judge Masipa Makes Grave Error in Conviction of Pistorius

Judge Masipa cleared Oscar Pistorius on the murder charge and convicted him on the lesser charge of culpable homicide. 

In my TSN article here, I explain why Judge Masipa made an error and should have convicted Pistorius of murder.




Friday, September 12, 2014

TSN's Off The Record: Pistorius, Ray Rice, Goodell & NHL Concussions

I join Michael Landsberg on his TSN show Off The Record. We take a 4 minute spin around the legal world of sports hitting on Pistorius, Ray Rice, Roger Goodell and the NHL concussion lawsuits.

Click here to watch.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

CTV National News: Why Judge Masipa Got It Wrong

I join CTV National News and discuss the Pistorius verdict. Click here to watch.

Same tie as below - sorry (same day).


CTV National News: Pistorius Verdict

I join CTV National News and break down the Oscar Pistorius verdict (day 1) in about 4 minutes.

Click here to watch.


Monday, September 8, 2014

TSN Article: NFL Could Revisit Rice Suspension

Here's my legal take in light of the breaking news of a new Ray Rice video showing him delivering a left hook to his fiancee at the time, Janay Palmer.


TSN 1260: We Talk Ray Rice and New Video

I join Dustin Nielson and Wil Fraser at TSN 1260 to discuss breaking news on Ray Rice. A new video has surfaced showing the RB knocking out his fiancee (at the time) in the elevator. 

We discuss what that means here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tony Stewart & Possible Criminal Charges

As the investigation enters its fourth week, it remains an open question whether NASCAR race car driver Tony Stewart face criminal charges in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.

During a NASCAR race on August 9 in upstate New York, Ward’s car was spun out by Stewart. Furious, Ward unbuckled, climbed out of his car and walked onto the track to confront Stewart, at which point he was struck by Stewart’s car.

The District Attorney continues to investigate the death of Ward looking into whether Stewart, at the very least, intentionally revved his throttle as he passed Ward to put a scare in him. By hitting the throttle, the car fishtailed to the right into Ward, killing him. If the conclusion is that Stewart was looking to scare Ward, he could be criminally responsible for the death of Ward.

That would likely mean a second degree manslaughter charge. Also called involuntary manslaughter, this occurs when a person “recklessly” causes the death of another person. Reckless acts are generally deemed less serious or blameworthy than intentional acts. A conviction carries a minimum sentence 1 to 3 years in prison and a maximum period of incarceration of 5 to 15 years.

I wrote about the incident days for TSN here.

The DA is going to need strong evidence to be satisfied that criminal charges against Stewart are warranted. The track was dark, Ward was dressed in black and he put himself into an inherently dangerous situation by walking into oncoming traffic.

Bearing these circumstances in mind, it would be a surprise to see the DA pursue criminal charges against Stewart unless they believe the evidence, in its totality, suggests that Stewart not only failed to avoid Ward, but was reckless in the way he approached him. That reckless element is key and is your threshold for criminal charges.

I’m not making a declaration as to whether I believe Stewart intended to hit Ward or, at the very least, tried to scare him by getting close to him. I can’t crawl into Stewart’s mind to assess intent. And frankly, neither can the DA. So the evidence as a whole will need to be assessed to make a reasonable conclusion as to what likely happened that night.

And absent compelling evidence to the contrary, Stewart may get the benefit of the doubt and walk. 

While I have not had the benefit of reviewing the results of the investigation to date, my sense is that Stewart isn't likely to face charges. Of course, that could change depending on what the DA uncovers. Still, I would be surprised to see charges materialize.

That being said, it seems likely that Stewart will face a wrongful death civil lawsuit from Ward's family. If a person is killed as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person, the surviving members may sue for "wrongful death". So long as the Ward family believes that Stewart is responsible, a lawsuit is inevitable.

Friday, September 5, 2014

TSN 1200 Ottawa: Bertuzzi/Moore

I joined Steve Lloyd and Chris Stevenson on TSN 1200 to discuss the Moore Bertuzzi settlement and what it means for the future of the game.

Click here to listen.

TSN Radio Toronto: Bertuzzi/Moore Settlement

I join Matt Cauz and Mike Hulk Hogan on TSN Toronto 1050 to talk Bertuzzi, Moore and Night Court's Markie Post.

Click here to listen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Interview: Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent

Anyone who has had the great pleasure of interviewing Fay Vincent, the former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, will tell you he is tremendous guest. And they're right. I interviewed Vincent and was left entertained by his insight wisdom, and above all, honesty.

Vincent and I covered a lot in our interview, including his time as Commish, his legacy, Bud Selig, Bob Manfred, Pete Rose, PEDs, Expos, Bart Giamatti, his close relationship with the Bush family and his time as CEO of Columbia Pictures.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Save By The LeVeon Bell: My TSN article on Bell, Blount and Blunt

I take a look at possible punishments against Leveon Bell and LaGarrette Blount, and by extension provide fantasy advice. Click here to read my TSN article on Bell, Blount and Blunt.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bertuzzi/Moore: It Ain't Settled Until the Fat Bailiff Sings

It's settled.

It's not settled.

Hang on - it's settled.

Wait - it's not settled. And that's where we are now.

Until such time as a Notice of Discontinuance is filed with the Court, there is no settlement. This type of Notice is filed with the Court with the consent of both parties letting the Court know it's over. Anything short of that means it's not technically over. And technically means a lot. 

These things can go sideways at the 11th hour and it's not unusual to believe that settlement has been achieved when in fact it has not.

I mentioned yesterday on Twitter it was highly unusual, if not completely unprecedented, to see a play by play of the tail end of settlement talks. I've never seen that in the context of an Ontario action and expect I never will. That made me wonder as to the legitimacy of the claims being made.

Ultimately, it is unclear where this confusion is coming from. However, it does raise some interesting questions.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bertuzzi, Moore & Possible Settlement

TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting that lawyers for Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore are engaged in “deep negotiations” with a view to settling the lawsuit. He has also reported that settlement is not yet finalized. There have been reports that the lawsuit has been settled. However, those reports are premature.


Moore NHL playing career ended in March 2004 when Bertuzzi, playing for Vancouver, jumped on Moore of the Colorado Avalanche from behind, and drove his head into the ice. As a result of the incident, Moore broke three vertebrae and will not play NHL hockey again.

Typically in civil cases (suing for money), parties are engaged in settlement discussions throughout the entire process. While it’s a standard occurrence, as the trial date bears down on the parties, there is an added incentive for the parties to settle. The certainty of settlement is often preferred to the uncertainty of a trial decision. Parties are further incentivised to settle in light of Court rules that penalize parties if they refuse a reasonable settlement offer.

Reports are that Moore is seeking about $38 million. I can’t confirm whether that is accurate. His lawyer Tim Danson, though, will consider a number of factors when arriving at a proposed dollar figure.

First, he will want Bertuzzi to compensate Moore for his lost NHL earnings. Bertuzzi would argue that Moore was a fringe fourth liner that had very limited earning potential and may not have stuck around the NHL. On the flip side, Moore will argue that at the age of 25 he was coming into his own and was poised to enjoy a long and fruitful career in the NHL. For example, Danson could take the position that Moore would have played 10 years at an average salary of $2 million a year, which would take his hockey earnings to $20 million. That number may be low for a 10 year veteran, but that’s q starting point. Ultimately, it is difficult to predict and the sides would each bring in experts to opine on the likely trajectory of Moore’s career. As you can appreciate, the sides would have entirely different opinions.

Danson will also want compensation for Moore’s lost future earnings outside of hockey to the extent that Bertuzzi is responsible. Danson has alleged that 10 years after the incident, Moore is still suffering from concussion symptoms and has difficulty focusing on a given task. As a result, Danson would argued that his client’s future earning potential has been substantially compromised.

Danson would maintain that Moore’s earning potential outside of hockey was likely to be substantial. Moore is a Harvard grad who had aspirations to work in the financial sector. Theoretically, he could have been a good earner, but because of his cognitive injury, he won’t be. As a result, Moore must be compensated for that loss.

Part of the monetary equation will include compensation for Moore’s pain and suffering and payment of part of his legal fees.

The issue of quantum is certainly a complex one and requires expert evidence. Both sides will likely have very different ideas of what constitutes appropriate compensation under the circumstances. But you can see how quickly things add up.

Under settlement is formally announced and all documents are signed, the case is not settled.


And one more thing: the terms of settlement will be confidential unless the parties agree for partial disclosure of terms. In cases with great public profile, that can happen. However, in this case, don’t bet on it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My 2 Minute Tribute to Robin Williams With The Help of Louis Armstrong

Here's my 2 minute tribute to Robin Williams with the help of Louis Armstrong. It starts with audio footage from 1971, where a rising star is introduced to a nightclub.

May Mr. Williams find peace.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pistorius Resources: Offside Articles & Radio Shows

Today the Oscar Pistorius trial ended. Judge Masipa announced that a verdict would be presented on September 11, giving the Court a little over 1 month to sort all this out. 

I have covered this trial in some depth. On my TSN radio show Offside I have played an analysed a lot of the testimony. I have also written a number of articles on this high profile trial. 

I have been asked a number of times if I believe Pistorius will be convicted of murder,

So at the risk of repeating myself, I have decided to reproduce links to my articles and radio shows, which outline my views on this case. I'm of course happy to answer any questions. You can send me your questions or comments through Twitter - @EricOnSportslaw.

The radio shows below where I carve out his testimony and comment is a good starting point. Don't mind all his crying.

Articles

August 7, 2014

July 3, 2014

April 7, 2014

March 4, 2014

February 22, 2013

Radio

April 9 Offside Radio Show: Start here for review of key testimony 

April 15 Offside Radio Show: Review of more testimony

April 22 Offside Radio Show: More of Pistorius testimony





Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TSN Article: Sterling Loses Lawsuit

A Court is allowing the sale of the Clippers by Rochelle "Shelley" Sterling.

Here's a link to my TSN article outlining what all this means.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Edmonton Listeners Fill In the Blanks

Listeners of TSN 1260 have always been pretty engaged in the smash hit morning show hosted by Dustin Nielson and Will Fraser. Some of the best listeners around.

Dustin likes to play a game with the listeners where he poses this question: 

"TSN 1260 Legal Analyst and __________ Eric Macramalla FILL IN THE BLANK FOLKS."

Last week, there were so many great responses. Here are the top 5 Twitter replies:

5) Eric Macramalla TSN1260 Legal Analyst and famed Jeterologist

4) Eric Macramalla TSN1260 Legal Analyst and professional twinky tester.

3) Eric Macramalla TSN1260 Legal Analyst and newest Preds centre

2) Eric Macramalla TSN1260 Legal Analyst and Mario Van Peebles stunt double

1) Eric Macramalla TSN1260 Legal Analyst and "My Buddy" doll creator

Here's a sample of some of the text messages sent in:

Tsn 1260 legal analyst and full time young and the restless blogger 
·         
TSN legal analyst & sexy librarian, Eric Macramalla   

TSN legal analyst & professional male model, Eric Macramalla
·     
Tsn legal analyst and child star of 1960's Bulgarian soap operas Eric Macromella 
·        
Legal analyst and collector of celebrity hair clippings. 
·         
TSN 1260 Legal Analyst and next host of the hit TV show Survivor
·         
TSN legal analyst & creepy ex-boyfriend, Eric Macramalla 
·         
Tsn 1260 legal analyst and creator of "is that hair gel?" hair products.
·         
TSN legal analyst and adult diaper fashion model.         

TSN legal analyst and traveling hair growth tonic salesman Eric Macramella

Eric Macramalla TSN legal analyst and falafel connoisseur. 

Tsn 1260 Legal Analyst and Co-Star of the Super Terrific Happy Hour with Jerry Seinfeld
·         
Legal analyst and "Chris Tucker Impersonator"

Legal analyst and guy in front of you at the grocery store till who has to go back for 1 more item. 

Eric Macramalla - TSN1260 Legal Analyst and Bea Arthur body double. 

Tsn legal analyst and assistant to the general manager of the Yankees
· 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

CTV National News: Redskins Trademark Cancellation

I joined Marcia MacMillan at CTV News to discuss the cancellation of the Redskins trademark registrations. 

Click here to watch.


TSN Article: Cancellation of Redskins Trademarks & What It Really Means

Today the USPTO ruled that the Redskins trademarks are to be cancelled. As a result of this ruling, there has been some confusion as to what this really means for the Redskins.

I clear it up here at TSN.ca.

Spoiler Alert: not as bad as many are saying.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

TSN Article: Dan Marino - Why He Withdrew From His Lawsuit

Dan Marino is withdrawing from his concussion lawsuit against the NFL. I address the withdrawal in my TSN article here.

I also wrote an article on the actual lawsuit before he withdrew, which can be found here at TSN. 

Dan Marino Sues the NFL

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino has filed his own NFL concussion lawsuit. Marino, along with 14 other players, filed the lawsuit on May 28, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Marino joins a little under 5000 retired NFL players and their families that have sued the league across approximately 225 concussion lawsuits. There have been many notable players that have filed lawsuits, including Tony Dorsett, Eric Dickerson, Mark Rypien, Tony Mandarich, Art Monk, Jim McMahon and Jamal Lewis, as well as the estate of the late Junior Seau. None, however, are as well known as Marino.

The key allegation raised by Marino is the NFL concealed information. He is arguing that the NFL knew of the long-term neurological impact of headshots but failed to share those findings with the players. This issue of fraudulent concealment was also alleged in the other concussion lawsuits so it’s not new.

It’s tough to know if Marino will succeed as everything turns on the evidence presented at trial. To win, he will need to show that the NFL had key and important information about the long-term and devastating impact of headshots and concealed it.
The NFL, however, has certain defences available to it. First, it can argue that players were aware of the risk associated with playing football and they agreed to those risks each time they stepped onto the field. The NFL would also maintain that they didn’t conceal anything. As well, the NFL could point out that no one can say for sure what caused a player’s dementia, and even if it was caused by repeated headshots while playing football, how much of that damage was sustained outside the NFL in places like college or high school ball. So what caused the dementia and when it was caused become key issues.
The NFL can also argue that Marino’s lawsuit doesn’t belong in court in the first place, but rather should go to arbitration. The collective bargaining agreement provides that issues of player health and safety go to arbitration and not court. On the flip side, Marino would argue that since this case involves fraud in the form of concealment, it properly falls outside of arbitration and within the jurisdiction of the courts.

Bottom line is this: both sides face challenges in this case and that's where we generally see settlement.

All this is probably moot, as the league is working on finalizing a global settlement of these cases. You may recall that back in July 2013, the league announced it had settled the concussion lawsuits with the players. The negotiated settlement was for $765 million and would bind every retired NFL player, of which there are about 19,000. You should note, though, Marino is included among these players. So that means that Marino didn’t need to file the lawsuit at this time.

As well, while settlement was indeed announced, it was not finalized. Before the NFL can consider the case closed, the Court has to approve the terms of settlement. The problem is that on two separate occasions the Court has rejected the settlement on the basis that there is insufficient money to pay all players.

As well, even if the Court were to approve the settlement, any of the 19,000 players would have the option to opt-out of the settlement agreement. If a player believes that he can do a lot better filing his own individual lawsuit, he would tell the court and the NFL thanks but no thanks, I'm headed to court.

The Marino lawsuit may suggest that he is tired of waiting around for a payout from the proposed settlement and wants to take matters into his own hands.

Whatever Marino’s motivation, these concussion lawsuits are likely to continue for years. In the event a global settlement is approved by the Court, it seems likely that a number of players will opt out and file their own lawsuits.

Indeed, there is still a lot of track to cover.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Prust v. Moore: Why They Are Different

Some are saying that John Moore's hit on Dale Weise is the same as Brandon Prust's hit on Derek Stepan. 

While both hits were dirty and unacceptable, they are in fact different from the vantage point of the NHL.


Rule 48.1 of the NHL Rule Book is key when making this distinction. It provides as follows:
Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.
When Prust delivered his hit on Stepan, the "main point of contact" was not Stepan's head (watch the GIF here). Rather, contact was made with the upper chest area and the jaw area. It may be seen as an issue of semantics, but "main" (or as previously referred to as "principal") means "chief" or "prime" point of contact. It cannot be said that Stepan's head was the main point of contact - even though it was a point of contact. Was the hit dangerous and unnecessary? Yes. Was the head the main point of contact? No.

So that's why in the NHL's suspension video, the hit was described as "significant head contact" but not "main" head contact. That resulted in a 2 game suspension for interference (which did seem a bit light given the lateness of the hit and the ensuing injury).

On the other hand, the "main point of contact" was Weise's head on the Moore hit. It's tough to see it any other way (watch a GIF here). Moore hit Weise square in the head. For that reason, expect this hit to be treated differently and possibly end with a longer suspension than that of Prust. Somewhere around 3 games. Two games, though, would not be a surprise since the league historically values playoffs games higher than regular season games.


With the fine distinction being made, are we splitting neurons? Maybe - but that's how it's interpreted at the league level.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

TSN 1200 Hit - I Talk Pistorius on Day 1 of Cross-Examination

Click here to listen to my radio segment with Steve Lloyd and Jason York where I break down Day 1 of Pistorius' cross examination.

TSN Article: Instant Legal Analysis: Day 1 of Pistorius Cross-Examination

Click here to read my TSN article entitled "Instant Legal Analysis: Day 1 of Pistorius Cross-Examination". I hit the critical parts of Pistorius' testimony.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CTV National News: Pistorius Testifies Day 2

I join Jacqueline Milczarek of CTV National News to talk Pistorius and his second day on the stand.

Click here to watch.


Monday, April 7, 2014

TSN Article: Pistorius Defence Team Takes Center Stage

In my TSN article, I discuss the many challenges faced by Oscar Pistorius and his defence team. 

Click here to read the article.

CTV National News: Pistorius Takes The Stand

Oscar Pistorius took the stand today. Click here to watch my segment with CTV National News talking about Pistorius and what it means.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CTV News Clip - Bertuzzi/Moore

I chat with Jacqueline Milczarek of CTV News on Bertuzzi/Moore case. 

Click here to watch.


TSN Article - Does Roddy White Have To Pay Up On Bet?

Click here to read my TSN article (via Bardown) on whether Roddy White needs to pay up on the season ticket offer to poor little Dylan Hoyt.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Athletes & The Money They Blow

Former NFL QB Vince Young filed for bankruptcy this week. He joins a long list of players who have had problems hanging on to their money.

Young grossed $45 million during his NFL career. That's a lot of pennies. As per the Court filing, he now has about $100,000 in assets and between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities. This talented QB had the physical tools to be successful but his issue was between the ears. Now those ears are a lot more poor.

Young isn't alone. According to a few reports, 78% of NFL players are either bankrupt or in financial trouble within 2 years of retirement. For the NBA, it's 60% of players that are bankrupt within 5 years of leaving the sport.

We should remember, though, that not all players make Manning coin and nor do they play for a decade. According to some (not all agree with these numbers), the average career length for a player is as follows:

NBA = 4.8 years
MLB = 5.6 years
NFL = 3.5 years

So players obviously have finite careers and finite earning potential - but some more finite than others. 

On top of that, income can be limited for some. While a guy like Brees makes $70 billion dollars or so, the minimum salary in the NFL $405,000 and a second year player gets $480,000. After taxes, these guys aren't exactly flush with cash.

The median NFL salary is about $800,000 (not to be confused with the $2 million average salary which is a less accurate reflection of where players stand given some of the really loaded contracts).

The reasons players blow their money are complex and varied: disadvantaged background and low socioeconomic status;  terrible investment advice and parasites out to defraud them; short careers; overspending; divorce/child custody payments (Travis Henry has 9 kids with 9 different mommies); legal fees because he killed two people and then drove his white car on the highway engaging in a high speed chase. 

Some or all of these factors can conspire to separate a player from his fortune. 

Below is a list I've compiled from around the web of players who have blown it all (or most of it). Their names are followed by their approximate gross (in millions):

Mike Tyson - $400M
Evander Holyfield - $250M
Allen Iverson - $200M
Michael Vick - $130M
Scotty Pippen - $120M
Antoine Walker - $110M
Curt Schilling - $105M (not clear how much he lost but at least $50M)
Latrell Sprewell - $96M                          
Vin Baker - $93M
Derrick Coleman - $90M
Terrell Owens - $80M
Deuce McAllister - $70 M
Warren Sapp - $60M
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario - $60M
Marion Jones - $50M
Mark Brunell - $50M
Lawrence Taylor - $50M
Tony Gwynn $50M
Jamal Lewis - $40M
Tiki Barber - $35M
Lenny Dysktra - $25M
OJ Simpson - $20M
Travis Henry - $20M
Muhsin Muhammad - $20M
Bernie Kosar - $20M
Jack Clark - $20M
Rocket Ismael - $20M
Bryan Trotier - $8M
Dorothy Hamill - $2M

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Subban & Race: Some of Your Responses

My article on Subban's reception having nothing to do with race (a frame down) has generated lots of responses from people. Here are a few:

Jeff

Totally agree.   He comes across as arrogant and self-centered.  He wants the spotlight to be on PK.  Where I come from in Southern Ontario, athletes like that get booed. Do leaf fans boo Daniel Alfredsson because he was born in Sweden? Of course not.

Max

Extremely well-written and argued.  I admit I am among those who suspect that race is a factor with Subban, and although I am not entirely persuaded,  you make a very strong case.  

I agree that people boo Subban because they perceive him as arrogant. Iginla, Simmonds, Jones are not regularly booed the way Subban is, as far as I know.  And a post-racial world would be one in which we are free to boo players because we perceive them as arrogant, and not feel awkward doing so because they are black. And maybe that is where we are with Subban.  

But...  It's a loaded issue. It's loaded because there is so much history of white people taking major exception to black people they perceive as uppity or arrogant.  Just like women who display confidence are portrayed as bitchy.  There are double standards.  

Would people boo Subban if he where white and acted how he does on the ice?  Honestly, there is an argument that they would. But my sense is maybe not.  Maybe he would be treated as a talented phenom. It's really hard to know.  My sense -- and it's only a sense -- is that some of the boos or some of the volume is due to the fact that he is black, and a lingering discomfort that people unconsciously have with a black person not knowing their place. 

Justin

I agree that booing Subban is not racially motivated at all. In fact, I would go as far to say that the booing is almost somewhat of a compliment to him. He's a good player; very good player and one of the best defenseman in the NHL today. You boo him because there is that sense that you might "throw him off his game" or whatever. And he draws a lot more attention because he is arrogant. If Erik Karlsson did what Subban to the Ottawa fans in Montreal or Toronto, he would be booed loudly. Remember Alfredsson's mocking of Sundin? Ottawa fans loved it. Toronto fans never ever forgave him for it and he's good and in professional sports, that will cause fans to boo you. And I am sure that after last year's playoff beat down, it felt good for Montreal fans to see Subban do it too.

If PK had come into the league and had automatically been booed, I could see an argument being made for it being race motivated. But that wasn't the case. And after a few years of the triple high five, along with a few other antics, people have started to boo him. If he wasn't this good, people probably wouldn't boo him. He's a guy you hate playing against but you would love him on your team. In a way he's like Milan Lucic or Chris Neil; would love them on my team, would hate playing them. But Lucic or Neil do not possess anything like the skill Subban has and they are not dirty players, so they do not get booed. Maybe a better comparison even in my mind is Crosby. Frankly, I hate the guy- he's somewhat arrogant, complains a lot and makes excuses every time things don't go his way. But as soon as him or Subban put on the Team Canada jersey next month, I will be in love with them both cause they have so much to offer to the team.

Sadly, I think there will always be some crazy individuals who are racist and will boo or dislike Subban simply because of the color of his skin. Look at what some crazy individual did to Wayne Simmons a few years ago at a pre-season game. It's really sad, stupid and unnecessary.

As for Subban I don't think it is racially motivated at all.

Frank

I thought it was a frank, honest look at a sensitive subject...Your column was spot on and pitch perfect and this isn't the kind of thing that's going to go away anytime soon.

Mark

Race in hockey is an issue, as you pointed out, because there are so few non-white players.  Only biathlon is more racially homogenous.  This isn’t going to change for a long time primarily for economic reasons.  You’d be hard pressed to find a more WASP bunch of people than in a minor hockey rink for morning practice.  The reality of youth sports really comes down to cost.  Whether you’re a new Canadian or not, hockey is darn expensive. Basketball and soccer not so much. If you’ve got several kids (boys and girls) you’ve got to make economic choices.  Soccer and basketball are just more affordable and also much more girl friendly too.  

Tom

I just read your thoughtful piece on what you believe to be a lack of racism regarding the response to P.K., for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect and affection. I've also been quite frankly incredibly outraged at what I absolutely perceived to be some degree of racism where PK is concerned. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Subban: It’s Not About Race

We’ve been hearing it for years now: Pernell Karl Subban is booed by fans and singled out by NHL hockey players because he’s black.

Some people apparently aren't even aware that race is the reason they react to Subban the way they do - they are engaged in an unconscious manifestation of racism. As the argument goes, we are living in a complex time complete with elaborate social economic pressures, inherent biases and uncontrollable prejudices. Subban bears the brunt of some of this.

Not buying it. Not by a long shot.

Subban is not being booed because he’s black. Subban is not being singled out because he’s black. Subban is a target because his personality rubs some people the wrong way. To declare that racism is the cause of this behavior is tedious, trite and convenient. It’s also a scathing indictment of  players and fans who rather innocuously express negative views about Subban uncomplicated by race. Finally, it also diminishes (albeit unintentionally) the substantial harm, anguish and brutality perpetrated on people of color over centuries.

Subban is a spectacular and gifted defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens. He’s a terrific skater, has a great shot, is physical, has great vision and clutch. In short, Subban is pretty special.

Going back to junior, however, Subban has not been warmly received. He’s come off as arrogant and cocky. Indeed, his own teammates, including some with the Habs, have expressed a common sentiment: Subban needs to show a bit more deference and humility.

Arrogance isn't restricted to one particular group. People across all races and ethnicities suffer from this affliction. It’s nothing more than a personality type and to suggest otherwise is very ironically lumping people who share a physical trait into one group.

A casual glance at the North American sports landscape past and present reveals that many African-Americans have been warmly received by fans: Calvin Johnson, Russell Wilson, David Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Kirby Puckett, Tony Gwynn, Julius Erving, Ken Griffey Jr., Reggie White, Barry Sanders, Magic Johnson and Roberto Clemente  Frankly, the list is endless.

Were these NHL players booed because of the color of their skin: Anson Carter, Grant Furhr, Mike Grier, Dustin Byfuglien, Jarome Iginla, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart and George Laraque?

Similarly, there are lots of white players that have been regularly booed in opposing rinks and chirped by opposing players. Dion Phaneuf, Sidney Crosby, Zdeno Chara, Alex Ovechkin, Claude Lemieux, Sean Avery, Matt Cooke and Max Lapierre come to mind.

So whether a player is white, black or orange, what seems to matter is how they carry themselves on and off the ice. And of course, it also matters how much damage they inflict on other teams. Skin color, however, as a key catalyst for hate in this particular circumstance seems awkwardly misplaced.

So why are Subban and race so intertwined? While black players in the NFL and NBA are commonplace, they only make up a very modest segment of the NHL player population. Think about it – how often do we hear the charge that an NFL player is being booed because he’s black?

And yes, Simmonds had a banana thrown at him. A banana being thrown at player, however, is a singular discreet event and to infer that certain fans are racist as a result is highly disputable if not flawed reasoning.

So perhaps, compared to the other 3 sports, hockey is less experienced with players of color. As a result, we end up seeing some things over-analysed.

There are of course going to be people that will not only boo Subban because they don’t care for his personality, but ALSO because he’s black. And some may boo him because he’s black. In those instances, it’s racist. But this isn't one of those instances.

Hockey is a funny sport. It’s a bit like the military. Individualism is not embraced nor encouraged. While the NFL does seek a certain level of uniformity among its players, they can still dance after a TD or celebrate a first down. Imagine if an NHL player danced after scoring a goal or did the moonwalk after icing was waived off?  We would hear stuff like “that is way over the top”, “there isn't a place in the game for that” and “the moonwalk is just inappropriate”.

NHL Players are directed to fall in line; to blend in. Subban doesn't do either. What Subban does do is entertain with a refreshing blend of flair and skill. Sports is theater and athletes are entertainers.

For some (present company included) Subban isn't arrogant; he’s confident. While ego may make some uncomfortable, it’s also an important feature of successful players.

So here’s hoping Subban never changes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

TSN Article: Thornton Appeal is a Bad Idea

Click here to read my TSN article on whether Shawn Thornton should appeal his suspension. Ultimately, bad idea.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

NBC Article: NHL Concussion Lawsuit Q&A

I wrote a Q&A on the NHL concussion lawsuit for NBC. To read it, click here.

NHL lawsuit: Interviews with Lead Lawyer for Players and Rick Vaive's Lawyer

Last night on Offside, I interviewed Steve Silverman and Trevor Whiffen. They both have very different views on the merits of the NHL concussion lawsuit.

Steve is the managing partner and lead lawyer for the players on the lawsuit. 

Apart from being the Governor of the London Knights, Whiffen founded the Ice Dogs with Don Cherry. He is also Rick Vaive's lawyer. Vaive pulled out of the NHL concussion lawsuit after it was filed. According to Whiffen, Vaive wasn't aware of the broad scope of the lawsuit.

Both Silverman and Vaive provide great content and Whiffen was pretty passionate. Click below to listen to their interviews:



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TSN Article: KC Chiefs Concussion Lawsuit

We have another NFL lawsuit. 

Former players for the Chiefs are suing the team for their brain damage. Click here to read my TSN article on how this lawsuit is different than the big class action lawsuit.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

NHL Lawsuit Did Not Result In 200 New Recruits

There are reports suggesting that the NHL concussion lawsuit has resulted in the recruitment of over 200 new players to the litigation. These players would join ex-players like Rick Vaive, Gary Leeman and a fella named Morris Titanic (perhaps the best name ever).

While that’s how it may look, that is in fact not the case. It is a far more likely scenario that the majority of these players signed retainers some time ago indicating that they would participate. However, they were not named along with the 10 plaintiffs simply because in a class action lawsuit, lawyers only need to name a handful of plaintiffs who operate as representatives of the entire class.

So it's an incorrect assumption that the filing of the lawsuit resulted in the recruitment of new NHL players. The names of the other unnamed hockey players will be made available in the near future – but just not right now.


All that aside, the filing of the lawsuit will undoubtedly be used as a tool to inspire others to join. In fact, if you’re a player and want to join, you need only go to the plaintiffs' law firm website and click on “Sign up to be part of the NHL Concussion Lawsuit”.