A Ranger Among Friends

Pledge Week

We were honoring the official 30 day mourning period that was called for by President Obama following the Caps’ implosion in Tampa Bay last Sunday evening.  We flew our Caps flag at half-staff, covered the mirrors inside the home, wore black arm bands and were making our ways through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief – we were stuck at stage 6: fist-shaking rage and bitter, seething resentment. But we were making progress.

We take the mourning period seriously and that meant no blogging. We did make exceptions for the Kentucky Derby but that’s like saying we’re not going to observe Purim. Then along came Sean Avery. 

We spent a couple days trying to get some thoughts together on his announcement supporting the same-sex marriage initiative in New York State, but there was little that we could add to the initial round of positive press he’s already received.

We struggled to articulate a contrarian view if only for the simple reason that we hate him – he’s a dick, and we let it pass.

Even casual readers know that Mr. Avery is no stranger to these pages. Despite his previous pro-gay pronouncements, we still took our shots at him, granted, some of them cheap.  He was an easy target and we made sport of his restaurants, his fashion (non)sense, the models he’s banged and of course his antics on the ice.  But the more we ruminated over his latest news, the more defanged we felt.

It’s not easy for us to say this, but attaboy Sean. We’ll check our parochial tribal loyalty to the hometown team at the door, and give credit where credit is due.

Although this was an easy step for Avery to make; a no-sweat lay up and a natural progression for him considering his past supportive statements, Fashion Avenue buddies and of course, the two cities that he’s made his home in, Sodom and Gomorrah. Still, role models on issues like this can come in all shapes and sizes and there’s no rule that says insufferable pricks like Avery can’t have a positive impact.

But the Avery news alone wasn’t reason enough for us to head back to the keyboard. Then along came Uptown Hockey. Over the course of a few hours yesterday afternoon, they drilled a puck into a social-political hornets nest and caused quite a stir on the Internets and twitters.  They later tried to calm the swarm with an obtuse clarification then another reclarification. To review:

Very sad to read Sean Avery’s misguided support of same-gender “marriage”. Legal or not, it will always be wrong.

To clarify. This is not hatred or bigotry towards gays. It is not intolerance in any way shape or form. I believe we are all equal…

But I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. This is my personal viewpoint. I Do [sic] not hate anyone.

Todd Reynolds

The tweets belonged to Uptown VP, Todd Reynolds (son of company founder, Don Reynolds), and we’ll take him at his word that he doesn’t hate anyone.

We’ll also give Reynolds and Uptown wide latitude to tweet anything they please, and have whatever views they wish – we’re First Amendment fundementalists, even if the Canadians aren’t.  The Reynolds may have hinted at their social conservatism all along – their website stating they represent players and their families ‘the right way.’ Right way or wrong way, the Reynolds are probably stinging a bit from those online hornets.

We could take some cheap shots at Uptown and question how wading into such choppy political waters serves their clients, but we won’t.  We could also point out that a certain element of their corporate logo bears a striking similarity to that of a gay fanboy hockey blog, but we won’t.

But it was yesterday’s brief burst of vitriol aimed at them that speaks every bit as clearly as Avery’s statements – the rank and file of this sport, player and fan alike, could be far more progressive and forward thinking than most had previously thought. Uptown learned that the hard way.  The Reynolds have since gone on record re-reclarifying with language that smacks of ‘hate the sin, love the sinner,’ and we’ll leave it at that, agreeing to disagree, despite what we consider to be their archaic and backwards views.

If we can give Sean Avery a pass for his past obnoxious behavior, we can do the same with Don and Todd Reynolds. Sean has earned it however, but we seriously doubt we’ll see the Reynolds marching in the Toronto gay pride parade, or making any serious or significant amends for that matter, just more re-reclarifications perhaps. Whatevs, haters (or non-haters) gonna hate, but we won’t. And for that matter, we’re not even all that inclined to sign the Uptown spanking petition that’s going around.

Go Bobcats!

While Uptown’s landing page proclaims “Commitment. Dedication. Integrity,” we’re reminded of two stand-up guys in the sports business – high fives to our new pal Hudson Taylor of Athlete Ally and an old pal, Peter Lasagna, lacrosse coach at Bates College in Maine. 

We’ve known Peter since junior high school and later went through thick and thin with him on the gridiron, and like a true Baron Brother, he stepped up big and got his athletic director and the entire college on board to host Hudson this week for a discussion on “Respect for all Individuals.”  Later on Thursday, Bates will be the first university to organize a campus-wide signing of the Ally pledge:

I pledge to lead my athletic community to respect and welcome all persons, regardless of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Beginning right now, I will do my part to promote the best of athletics by making all players feel respected on and off the field.

Don and Todd – you guys can sign the pledge too. It’s got nothing to do with marriage, just commitment, dedication and integrity. And Sean, you can be the first NHL player to sign on.  We’ll drop you a line later this week to discuss.  Now that we’re pals, of course.

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12 Responses to A Ranger Among Friends

  1. Mike Rucki says:

    I figured Reynolds’ comments would trigger a PB response… glad to see you made an exception to the blogging blackout!

  2. Todd G says:

    Sad thing is that I’m sure a lot of players are going to give it to Avery in on-ice comments for his statement.

  3. Over_head (Rob) says:

    I am sure with Avery’s reputation, he would “give it to” another player on the ice that expressed an opinion that might be used against them. He is a big boy, he can take it. Honestly, I do not care what Avery, or any other hockey player thinks about this type of issue. And if you want to be real cynical about this, you could even say this statement will be beneficial to Avery and his life off the ice. Mr. Avery should be able to publicly express any opinion he wishes without being personally attack for it. Unfortunately, that also means those we disagree with should be able to express an opinion without being shouted down or personally attacked.

    Yesterday, that agent was personally attacked, and was shouted down. It was the twitter equivalent of a crowd with pitchforks and torches chasing him down ;) And then, as is common on twitter, there was a contest to see who could be the “snarkiest”. If people want to change the guys mind, talk to him, don’t shout at him. I don’t know about you, but my mind has never been changed, nor have I ever reconsidered an opinion after someone shouted at me or called me a name.

  4. Foxeyes2 says:

    Most of the feedback that I have read about this seems to be pro-Avery and pro-equality and anti-Uptown Sports Management. A lot of NHL players and others are on the side of equality.

    As far as Reynolds being attacked personally I felt personally attacked when he said that I do not deserve the same rights he deserves and even more so when his father compared two men getting married to a man marrying a horse. It takes a sick mind to make that comparision.

    • Craig says:

      Good point Fox. We’ve witnessed the culture war battles rage for decades and the debate has ranged from the profound to the profane; the Reynolds appear to fall closer towards the latter category. A few weeks ago it was Kobe, and now it’s the Reynolds’ star turn. Next week it will be another new brush fire outrage. And so it goes.

      It’s unlikely the combatants will ever reach a truce, but I’d like the Reynolds to buy us a root beer the next time they’re in DC anyway, so we can discuss it in a more civil atmosphere. (We won’t hold our breath waiting for an invite). It just doesn’t seem that shrieking at them in 140 character volleys gets the puck deep in the zone. We have the moral high ground and that alone can be comforting. We’ll win this one yet if we stick to the game plan.

  5. magnolia says:

    (grumble, grumble) good on sean avery for taking a stand on this. (grumble, grumble)

    ouch. it hurts saying good things about him. i wish one of our guys would’ve done this. that would’ve been much more fun.

  6. Over_head (Rob) says:

    I did not hear him compare two men getting married to a horse and a man getting married. He must have done that during his radio interview, which I did not listen to. I have heard a similar argument made before, but that was more to point out that maybe there should be *some* limit on marriage. This doesn’t impact me personally, if it did I might be a little more emotional about it. Heck, I do not even think government should be involved in marriage at all.

    Something about the way he was attacked bothers me. It is almost a collective effort to silence an unpopular opinion. This maybe a bad example, but I notice it more and more in our society. That is a dangerous thing for people to get in the habit of doing.

    • Mike Rucki says:

      Rob, what you say about government’s involvement in marriage is spot-on. The institution of marriage is an inherently religious thing. If govt would disassociate itself from marriage and simply adjudicate civil unions — i.e., the legally-recognized union between two consenting adults, and all the benefits and obligations thereof — we wouldn’t have religion intruding in what is basically a legal concern. And if government only cared about legal unions, then all could be equal without religious protests.

      Let government sanction legal unions, and nothing else. Let religion sanction “marriage” or whatever it may be called in a given religion. Win-win.

      • Over_head (Rob) says:

        I had a conversation with my girlfriend about this not too long ago. She accused me of not being very romantic when I suggested a marriage, as far as the state is concerned, is nothing more than a legal agreement between two individuals. Comparable, in many ways, to forming an LLC or business partnership. The state sets out very broad rules for how the LLC is formed, but they do not tell me who I may form the business with, other than saying they must be an adult. I see no reason why a marriage should be any different.

        It is a win-win, as long as one is looking at this as a legal issue and not a moral one. People that want to control what everyone else in society does, even when it does not impact them, confuse me.

  7. Mike Rucki says:

    Damian Goddard of Rogers Sportsnet was fired today after his tweet supporting Todd Reynolds.

    • Over_head (Rob) says:

      I had a problem with people shouting them down, but I have no issue with a company deciding they do not want someone with that viewpoint representing them. Dustin Jeffrey also dropped uptown sports as the agency representing him. Now he is with CAA.

      • jenn says:

        this is the first place i saw anything about one of uptown’s client dropping them. i was wondering if we’d hear anything about that as soon as the story started rolling. that’s pretty excellent.

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