CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Blackhawks fans who shouted racist taunts at a Washington Capitals player have been banned from attending games at the United Center.
“We have contacted the select individuals involved in the incident on Saturday to notify them that they are no longer welcome at our home games,” spokesman Adam Rogowin said. “Racist comments and other inappropriate behavior are not tolerated by the Chicago Blackhawks.”
Four fans were ejected from the United Center on Saturday night for chanting a racial taunt while Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly served a penalty for fighting during the Capitals’ loss to the Blackhawks.
“All of us feel that there’s just no place for any of that in society or at sporting events,” Patrick Kane said after Monday’s practice.
Smith-Pelly confirmed the fans were chanting “basketball, basketball, basketball” and understood immediately what it meant in being directed at a black hockey player in a sport dominated by white athletes.
There are fewer than 30 African-American players on NHL rosters. Smith-Pelly said he’s been the target of racial taunts in the past but wasn’t willing to ignore this one.
“We’re at a time now where you can’t brush it under the rug,” he said. “You got to start calling people out and making sure people see other peoples’ true colors. A few ignorant people being idiots — that’s it.”
Added Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair: “I’m glad that it was caught on camera and that Devo actually spoke out. It’s unacceptable to be honest with you.”
Duclair said he’s also endured racist taunts through the years while playing the sport he loves.
“It’s really tough,” he said. “I mean, it’s obviously a white sport and you just want to go out there and compete and do what you love everyday. There’s some ignorant people in this world, you got to deal with that.”
Photos of the incident shows one fan taunting Smith-Pelly and several onlookers smiling or laughing. Four fans were escorted out of the game.
“Obviously, we don’t support that kind of behavior and I think in this day and age, I think it’s time to start moving past that and realize, we don’t want to stoop to those levels,” Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews said.