On apologies

Be glad that Andrew Shaw apologized for his homophobic remark.

We don’t see a lot of apologizing in sports – or in the world, for that matter.  Especially surprising, considering that we live in an otherwise very forgiving society. We don’t necessarily forget, but boy, do we forgive.

While I skewered the Blackhawks yesterday in a post, I will give the organization and Andrew Shaw credit for taking ownership of what not only could have turned into a two- or a three-day story. And that should be a cardinal rule of public relations – don’t let the story go longer than one day.

Emotions, Shaw said “got the best of me.”

He says he will never use “that word” again.

(It’s also worth asking, “how many times did you or your teammates use it before?”)

But Shaw’s apology should also bring another issue to the forefront:

There’s the message that yes, homophobia is an ugly issue that needs to be addressed head-on. It’s also an unsavory element of the culture of ice hockey, and one that isn’t just confined to the NHL level.

This should give the hockey community a chance to take some pause, and maybe do some reflection. How are we espousing certain values in the culture of our sport?

Listen to the kind of language that hockey players at all levels use. How their families use it. What they say to each other and to their teammates. This is where it begins. This is where the culture can be changed.

But the fact that we had to have this conversation to begin with also provides a certain commentary: are we as a society too tolerant of homophobia, racism and sexism?

Still, an apology goes a long way. Let’s hope that actions will go a little further.

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