Every era must come to an end, and thankfully the end has come for Don Cherry’s.
In a long overdue move, Sportsnet finally cut ties with the host of Coach’s Corner this week.
It should have happened a long time ago.
Years of racist and misogynist comments, uninformed opinions on issues such as climate change and advocating a hard-hitting style of hockey that, frankly, put the health of players at risk, finally made his continued employment untenable.
Once fondly thought of as little more than the nation’s loud-mouth uncle, it all stopped being funny a long time ago.
At some point, the time comes to tell your racist uncle to shut the hell up.
The “you people” Cherry talked about last Saturday, in comments that finally broke the camel’s back, built this country. This is a country of immigrants, who came here with experiences and family and community histories that Cherry either never appreciated or could never be bothered to learn about.
Over the years, Cherry also lashed out against Indigenous communities, dismissing the challenges they face by saying they just need to work harder, and accused French Canadians of being “whiners.”
Stereotyping hockey players into being only from a European background – but not, apparently, actual Europeans, given his rants about Swedish and Finnish players over the years – only limits and ultimately hurts a game he claimed to love, and reveals a deep-rooted bigotry that diminishes us as a country.
In Cherry’s world, there was no place for women sports reporters, either, because he didn’t want them in the locker rooms.
In his world, anyone who didn’t want to get into a fight on the rink wasn’t worth having around, because somehow stick play was less a part of the game than throwing your gloves to the ice.
He claimed to care first and foremost for young Canadian hockey players, especially “good Kingston boys,” but when Ontario Hockey League players stood up for themselves in the face of poverty wages and brutal conditions, he lashed out at them, too.
It’s one thing to say you support our veterans, as Cherry has done over the years, but quite another to use that support as a vehicle to rant about immigration and spread hate. Whatever work he has done to support veterans should be applauded, but that doesn’t give him the right to spread hate in the wake of that support.
We see much too much hate already as intolerance grows around the world, playing out largely against the Muslim men and women and many others who fit into Cherry’s “you people” criteria.
Good on Sportsnet for finally showing him the door, but we also need to recognize that the fight against intolerance does not end with Cherry’s removal.
The tens of thousands of signatures to petitions calling for Cherry to get his job back, and the trolls on social media lashing out at his dismissal, show that there is still much work to be done.
This isn’t about free speech. Cherry has the same right to his opinions as any of us. He just doesn’t have the right to be paid enormous amounts of money to spread his hate.
We need to make sure that such hate, such intolerance, has no place in hockey – not in the stands, not in the locker rooms and not in the commentary booths that Cherry haunted.
Don Cherry, you went too far this time - so this is goodbye, from one of those "Pinkos" you raged about in your own unique and simplistic way.
As you once said yourself, Don, “put that in your pipe.”