Commentator fired for making racist comment at BC junior hockey game

A BCHL commentator has been fired and banned from broadcasting after making a racist comment during Friday’s game between the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and Langley Rivermen. (dotshock/Shutterstock – image credit)

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A commentator has been fired after making a racist comment while announcing a game between the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and the Langley Rivermen of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).

Bruce MacDonald, who was the color commentator for Port Alberni radio station 93.3 The Peak’s broadcast of the match, made a derogatory comment against 17-year-old Rivermen forward Owen Kim, who is of Asian descent.

The 5’7″ North Vancouver player was involved in an altercation with Bulldogs defenseman Logan Holm in the second period of the game.

“Oh, Kim…forget it. Get on a ladder and talk to her,” MacDonald was heard saying immediately afterwards.

“Does he speak English?” Maybe that’s the problem.

MacDonald’s comments drew an immediate reaction from play-by-play announcer Evan Hammond, who is heard saying “Now come on! It’s too far.”

At the end of the period, MacDonald was pulled from the show by the Bulldogs and then banned future BCHL issues. A color commentator is someone who assists the main play-by-play announcer by providing levity and anecdotes – thus providing “color” to the show.

“Really, it comes down to a player safety issue,” BCHL communications manager Jesse Adamson told CBC News. “When people think of player safety, they often think of player suspensions for bad shots… But the off-ice stuff matters too.”

“We want to make sure that we send the message that treating any of our players like this is completely unacceptable.”

Langley Rivermen governor Brad Bakken said Kim was upset when he heard the comment after the game.

“It’s not okay to call people certain things or insinuate certain things,” Bakken said.

Bakken adds that the team is supportive of Kim and her family.

MacDonald released a statement on Twitter on Saturday, saying he was “deeply sorry” for the hurt he caused Kim, her family and others.

“No one should feel this way and I take full responsibility for my racist comments,” he said in the statement.

Commentator fired by employer

93.3 The Peak is operated by Pattison Media, which operates numerous radio and television stations in Western Canada.

Rod Schween, president of the group, confirmed to CBC News that MacDonald was fired on Saturday morning following his comments.

“Sometimes I think we think we’ve taken two steps forward, sometimes we take one step back,” he said. “I hope we can all learn from an incident like this.”

Schween says derogatory comments can have a huge impact on junior players who are in the developmental stage of their careers.

“Not only do we have an example to set for the young players in this team, but we have a responsibility to our listeners and the public,” he said. “To Mr. Kim and his family and their hockey team, I again offer our sincere apologies.”

It was unclear how long MacDonald had been calling Bulldogs games, with his statement saying the team had been a part of his life “since day one.”

Bulldogs president David Michaud said MacDonald had been a “staple” at the club and a big draw for fans over the years, but his actions had consequences.

“As some of these problems [such as racism] have crept more prominently into the game lately, it’s certainly caused me to pause and think about our obligation and our responsibility,” he said. “Letting something like that slide yesterday evening would have meant that the other things we did were just hollow or for show.

“I’m proud of how quickly we acted. And I know our players know our position and I hope the community knows our position and appreciates it.”

Friday’s incident marks another example of racism in the hockey world, with a wave of players coming out in recent weeks to report racist incidents on the ice.

In March, 16-year-old Zaya Morro said he was disappointed by a BC Hockey investigation into an incident where he was called a racial slur after a hit.

Many black players have also come forward in Ottawa and Quebec in recent weeks to report incidents of racial abuse.

Catherine J. Martinez