Social Media Around Game 7 is Tainted by Racism

Posted April 25, 2012

Joel Ward, 42, scores the game-winner in OT. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US Presswire

Earlier today, I said that Caps fans really can have an impact on the players they support when they tweet. While it’s not the case (I hope) that players are reading through their Twitter feeds between periods, it’s definitely true in the broader sense that social media has brought fans closer than ever to their teams, increasing the visibility fans, players, team staff and media have to one another.

And Caps fans were wildly active on Twitter in the minutes after tonight’s win. It was what I planned to write about – messages of congratulations, excitement for the next round. Messages in support of game winning goal scorer Joel Ward.

The tweets about tonight’s game came by the hundreds, not just from DC but from all over the US and Canada, and Joel Ward’s name quickly became a trending topic. But it didn’t require digging much deeper to see that many messages about Ward were fraught with racism.

Editor’s Note : We decided NOT to censor these Tweets, thus they are NSFW. 

  • “Joel ward you fucking nigger you suck 6 goals all season you fucking plug nigger bitch”
  • “Hey Joel Ward!! You fuckin spear chucking monkey, why don’t you actually DO SOMETHING. You’re totally irrelevant”
  • “Joel Ward doe. yet again, slowly taking over everything the white man holds near and dear”
  • “The only reason Joel ward is playing hockey is because he got cut from the basketball team in high school #gorilla”
  • “I wonder if Joel Ward is the only black hockey player to score a game 7 OT winning goal hahaha? #monkeys”
  • “Fuck joel ward. Fuck black hockey players. the bruins blackhawks all day niggas”
  • “Joel ward is a fuckin nigger #FuckYou”
  • “What goes around comes around for Tim Thomas. He snubs Barack & his twin Joel Ward scores the winner #karma”
  • “Joel ward is the only black man I’ll allow to have my babies”
  • “How the fuck did Joel ward get out of my plantation? #WheresMyCotton”
  • “Fuck joel ward, of course a black guy scores the round winner”
  • “Warning to Joel Ward. Your one of three black guys in Canada. I will find you…and I will kill you.”
  • “Purple Kool-Aid is everywhere in the Washington dressing room right now”
  • “This sucks big black Joel Ward dick #fuckcaps”

It’s unbelievable stuff, and I’m out of my element writing about it, but frankly it speaks for itself. I don’t want to misrepresent what I saw. There were thousands of tweets, and these were just a few of them. A few hateful, shocking tweets that I handpicked to share here. For a sport that has struggled with issues of racism in the past, and that struggles now with issues of safety and sportsmanship, it is unfortunate to say the least.

Thanks to Joel Ward’s clutch goal tonight, the Caps live to play another series. The third and fourth lines are the life of this team’s offense, and it’s my hope that Ward may yet replicate his outstanding performance from last year’s playoffs. I’m looking forward to a lot of great social conversation, and I’m hopeful that the coverage that comes out of this unfortunate incident will ensure that hockey fans in DC and far beyond are sensitive to the nature of the updates we share.