This week at Peng to the Point, we can’t avoid talking about the San Jose Sharks.
You wanted athletes to express themselves politically? If that’s what you wanted, you got it this past week.
On Wednesday, San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture said that he had been punched on Tuesday night in Toronto after publicly expressing support for the Republican Party and for mentioning Donald Trump.
After a firestorm of criticism, Couture wrote in a since-deleted apology, “Bringing politics to my platform is wrong.”
If this is what Couture has learned from all this — I’m sorry for that.
On Thursday and Friday, we saw NHL players express themselves, if not politically, to be exact, but socially in their postponement of playoff games.
“Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences,” the NHLPA acknowledged in a statement. “We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize the moment.”
Couture’s tweets and the NHLPA’s actions aren’t the same things. But in an ideal world — in my ideal world, at least — a spectrum of public expression would not just be allowed, but encouraged, so a Couture isn’t afraid to speak his mind — or a Ryan Reaves isn’t afraid to take a knee during the national anthem.
I want athletes to express their beliefs — and I hope they have the open minds to engage in civil discourse about them.
To be clear: My politics and Couture’s do not align. I find his support for a political party that has been mostly complicit in Donald Trump’s rise to be questionable, at best.
But I agree, at least from what we can gather from Couture’s account of the incident, that “violence isn’t the answer and doesn’t solve anything.”
There is a point for violence, of course. Nazi Germany wasn’t toppled by talk.
But are we at that point? Punch Nazis, sure — not Logan Couture.
So maybe I’m the one who’s naive, but I think there’s still time to make things better by talking and listening — at least in this case.
I’d like to hear what Couture thinks the Republican Party “may bring in the election.”
Couture also mentioned his father being a police officer. It’s certainly understandable that his point of view would be framed by that perspective.
On the other hand, is it too late for Couture, if he hasn’t already, to recognize the disproportionate brutality that black people endure from the police in the United States? Or from the police in Canada?
Naw we need guys like Logan Couture to keep talking. Let us know exactly where you stand
— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) August 26, 2020
There are a couple ways to look at this tweet. Maybe “guys like Logan Couture” are the ones to avoid? Or maybe they’re the guys to try to talk to?
I can’t discount Grey’s experience as a black woman — and it’s not her job to educate.
But I’m still optimistic that people can move from where they stood.
Look no further than Robin Lehner, who sported a Trump sticker on his mask in 2017 — and knelt with Reaves, Tyler Seguin, and Jason Dickinson during the national anthem in 2020.
Look no further than Couture himself, who was the first San Jose Sharks player to speak up against racism after teammate Evander Kane begged for his fellow athletes’ support on “First Take” in late May:
My thoughts. Sorry if this offends anyone. All love ❤️ pic.twitter.com/9BbktIrxqd
— Logan Couture (@Logancouture) May 30, 2020
That was three months ago, of course. As Kane said recently, “It’s great to write statements. It’s great to send tweets. It’s great to post stories and pictures on Instagram, but at the end of the day, it’s gonna be about real action and meaningful change.”
In my opinion, Couture knocked it out of the park with one statement. He struck out with another. What’s his next act?
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