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A Plea to Caps Fans: Let’s Be Better

By now, everyone is aware of the ongoing Patrick Kane investigation. If you’re not, there are plenty of places to find more information about it, from every conceivable angle, should you be inclined to read up on it.

This will not be one of those places, for many reasons and regardless of what opinions you or I may have on this situation (or if he should even be playing tonight).

With the Blackhawks scheduled to appear at Verizon Center tonight, though, I use this space to offer up a simple request: think before you chant.

The Blackhawks have played two road games so far this year, once in Brooklyn against the Islanders and again last night in Philadelphia. In both buildings, fans have taunted Patrick Kane with some version of a “no means no” chant. It’s a phrase which, in the context of social activism, shows support to the victims of sexual assault – but at a sporting event like this, where the tone is almost certainly one of mockery, it does the exact opposite.

Jokingly referencing something like sexual assault is part of a larger issue in our society in which such events are not taken nearly seriously enough, a culture in which the voice of the victims and their allies and advocates carries little weight. These chants, and the issues behind them, are not funny or clever… and they’re definitely not okay.

The sporting world and the “real” world are such different places, with such different rules, that we often forget how one can overlap with the other. We forget how to be human, how to take the feelings and experiences of others into account and how to live in a civilized society. Turning sexual assault into a punchline is the epitome of that forgetfulness. We all need to be better than that, regardless of what jersey we wear or what arena we visit or what team is in town.

This is about trivializing something that should never be trivialized

This isn’t about protecting Kane’s precious feelings. Boo him if you want. Hell, cheer for him if you want. This isn’t about how you should or shouldn’t feel about the situation or whether it’s okay to taunt an opposing player in general. This is about trivializing something that should never be trivialized, taking a serious situation and making it into a joke.

ESPNW’s Katie Fagan summed it up perfectly when discussing a similar chant aimed at Jameis Winston back in January:

So when Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks take the ice tonight, let’s avoid giving in to our baser instincts and the lesser version of ourselves that sports inevitably bring about. Let’s think about our actions and remember that we are, first and foremost, human beings.

Let’s be better.

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