Shut Up and Dribble: Another slap on the wrist for a racist

If you want to fix the racism problem in your sport, stop firing warning shots

There’s only one way to send a clear message that racism is intolerable in your sport. Ban them for life.

HC Kremenchuk forward Andrei Deniskin of the Ukrainian Hockey league got away with a minimal punishment for an obscenely racist gesture towards Black opponent Jalen Smereck. A gesture that he told Hockey Unfiltered writer Ken Campbell was “by far the worst” he’s ever experienced. You can see the video here (TW: racism). 

This was not an error in judgment or something that comes out in the heat of the moment. Racist instances don't just pop up out of nowhere, especially one as graphic and deliberate as the gesture Deniskin made.

After an investigation, Deniskin received a three-game suspension and an $1,800 fine that would be waived if he serves another 10 games. This suspension is more than just a joke of punishment, it’s an indictment of just how little hockey organizations—including the International Ice Hockey Federation—care about actively stamping out racism in their game.

Following the event, Smereck announced on Instagram that he was taking a leave of absence from the team and does not plan to return “until Andrei Deniskin is suspended and removed from the league.”

It speaks volumes that the victim of racism is now the one who is unable to play the sport he loves, while this vile asshole has to wait anywhere from a week to a month before he can hit the ice.

The instant and widespread backlash from every corner of the hockey world is definitely a welcomed sight, but it seems as though every few weeks there’s a new issue surrounding racism and bigotry going unpunished. We can discuss at length the problems that plague most major sports at every level and age group, but the truth is there simply isn’t enough time in a day to do so. 

Now is no longer the time to sit calmly and debate how many games is enough of a suspension for assaulting a player like that. Now is the time for heads to start rolling.

Ban him (and anyone else) for life.