A screenshot of the Pictou County Scotians Facebook page. Their Facebook stream saw a commentator get in trouble for a remark on a referee.

There have been quite a few cases of youth sports broadcasters getting in trouble for their on-broadcast comments. The latest case comes from a Facebook livestream of a Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League (Junior B) game between the Pictou County Scotians and the Eskasoni Junior Eagles last Sunday.

That game saw Eskasoni win 3-2 in a shootout after tying the game with two third-period goals, with that period seeing Pictou County handed seven penalties to Eskasoni’s one. As CBC’s Erin Pottie writes, the penalties led to a commentator (whose name hasn’t been published in the reports on this) on the Scotians’ pay-per-view Facebook livestream saying “I wonder if he has a band card,” about the referee, questioning if the referee was Indigenous (the generally-preferred term in Canada) and giving favorable treatment to the Eskasoni team (which has both Indigenous and non-Indigenous coaches and players). That led to a lot of criticism, and to this statement from the Scotians Wednesday, which saw them say they investigated and the individual in question has been “relieved of his duties”:

The comments here had quite an effect, though. Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny is an owner and president of the Junior Eagles, and he spoke to CBC’s Pottie on how disappointed he was to hear this:

“I was just shocked with the comment. Discouraged and saddened that happened because there’s really no place for this in hockey. As our team, we always push inclusiveness all the time.”

…Denny, who acts as a hockey commentator both in English and Mi’kmaw, says being unbiased and using proper language is important.

He said the decision to remove the commentator was fair.

“They did their part and, you know, there’s policies and I believe the [league] executive and also the team, I think they did the right thing to act on this,” he said.

“We just want to play hockey. That’s our focus, to win, to be competitive and for our players and fans to have fun and feel safe.”

This is not the first recent example of negative comments from broadcasters towards Indigenous people. But it is another example of what shouldn’t happen on air.

[CBC; top screenshot from the Scotians’ Facebook page]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.