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Rick Zamperin: Better late than never, Sidney Crosby issues statement on George Floyd’s death

Pittsburgh Penguins centre Sidney Crosby smiles in the faceoff circle while playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third-period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.
Pittsburgh Penguins centre Sidney Crosby smiles in the faceoff circle while playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third-period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Sidney Crosby has become the latest prominent sports figure to add his voice to the list of athletes, current and former, who are condemning racial injustice following the death of George Floyd.

In a statement released on Twitter through Crosby’s charitable foundation on Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain said: “What happened to George Floyd cannot be ignored.

“Racism that exists today in all forms is not acceptable,” Crosby said. “While I am not able to relate to the discrimination that Black and minority communities face daily, I will listen and educate myself on how I can help make a difference.”

Crosby ended his statement by saying: “Together, we will find solutions through necessary dialogue and a collective effort.”

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Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest over an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill.

Floyd’s death has triggered massive protests across America, and around the world, against police brutality and racial injustice.

READ MORE: Ontario health leaders call on province to declare anti-Black racism public health crisis

Crosby’s statement comes days after San Jose’s Evander Kane — one of a handful of Black stars in the National Hockey League — urged him to speak out.

“It’s time for guys like Tom Brady and Sidney Crosby and those types of figures to speak up about what is right and, clearly in this case, what is unbelievably wrong,” Kane said. “Because that’s the only way we’re going to actually create … that necessary change, especially when you talk about systemic racism.”

Did Crosby, one of the NHL’s most recognizable and heralded players of his generation, wait too long to issue a statement about Floyd’s death and the issue of inequality?

George Floyd death: Black activist delivers powerful message to 16-year-old protester in viral video
George Floyd death: Black activist delivers powerful message to 16-year-old protester in viral video

Perhaps, but what would it have looked like if Crosby responded to Kane’s plea that same day? The message would have come across as cold and thoughtless.

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Instead, Crosby waited, and it is clear that his words are poignant and progressive, much like the messages that have been shared by other NHL stars, such as Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews.

The fact of the matter is, Crosby has not only thrown his support behind this important outcry, he has done it in his usual, well-thought-out way knowing that his words and actions carry a lot more weight, and are much more scrutinized, than others in his sport.

And it’s all that citizens have at the moment — a voice that is calling for change.

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program director, news and senior sports director with Global News Radio 900 CHML in Hamilton.