Friday, 16 November 2012

When Rockford Goes South

Minor-league hockey teams are known for their wild and crazy promotions. There used to be "Fight Nights" in the southern United States when certain teams with specific tough guys rolled through town, and the local southern hockey team wanted to draw fans by capitalizing on the violence. There have been Halloween jerseys, Christmas jerseys, and all sorts of other jerseys produced by minor-pro teams to celebrate whatever they felt was necessary. Tonight's game for the Rockford IceHogs may have just hit a new low in the hockey spectrum.

The Rockford IceHogs are holding "Los IceHogs Night" in order to honour Latino Americans when they play the Houston Aeros tonight. While this could have been done tastefully, the IceHogs appear to be more "gringo" than Latino with their choice of uniforms for this evening's events. Take a look.
From the sombrero on the IceHogs' logo to the very stereotypical moustache (viva Movember, anyone?) to the poncho-like sublimation of the uniform, the IceHogs seemingly went for any and all Mexican imagery that Latino folks try to avoid themselves. So why would the IceHogs do something like this?

"We're trying obviously to bridge the gap between two different cultures," Mike Peck, the IceHogs Director of Communications, said. "Obviously there's not a lot of Hispanics or Latinos that attend hockey games so what we’ve tried to do is figure out a way to do a night for the local Hispanic or Latino community here in Rockford."

When informed that the uniform may be slightly on the offensive side, Peck answered, "First, we apologize because that wasn't the intent, and secondly, it's something that has been inspired through the Coalition of Latino Leaders. From our end, we wouldn’t have done this on our own, by any means."

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, though. So who is this "Coalition of Latino Leaders" that Peck outed in his statement? One member of the coalition, Rudy Valdez, too the opportunity to speak out for the Coalition.

"It's been a wonder experience having this collaboration between this IceHogs and the Latino community," said Rudy Valdez, a member of the Coalition of Latino Leaders. "We look forward to future partnerships with the IceHogs, RAVE and BMO Harris Bank Center that gives us access to more entertainment for our community."

Really? I can't see this as making any sort of inroads for the Latino community in and around Rockford in any way when you see players skating around in these.
Look, I'm all for a good time, and I'm glad to see that money is going towards a charity in tonight's game, but this uniform screams "we know nothing of the Latino community". Again, the good news is that a portion of the proceeds from tonight's game are being donated to La Voz Latina, an organization dedicated to serving the Rockford region's Hispanic community through education, workshops and youth programming.

Local band Aires de Guamajuato will perform sets after pregame warm-ups, during both intermissions, and briefly after the game. The IceHogs will cap the Latino night by having goals and penalties read in Spanish, and Public Address Announcer Chris Toltzman's announcements during the game will also be read in Spanish.

Personally, minor-pro jerseys should never offend the group you're trying to honour, so these uniforms would have to rank as one of the worst in hockey history. Sure, it would be cool to own one, but there's not many places you could wear it without people staring you down.

Here's hoping that the IceHogs raise a ton of money tonight to get the Latino community back on their side because I'm not sure that this night of honour makes any Latino person proud.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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