NHL Star, ESPN Broadcaster Handle Conflict Maturely And Without Outrage

John Simmons | May 11, 2023
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During the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, ESPN anchor John Anderson was surprised by the name of one of the players.

One of Vegas’ defenseman is named Zach Whitecloud. When Anderson discovered this, he tried to crack a joke at his last name.

“Zach Whitecloud — what kind of name is Whitecloud?” Anderson quipped. “Great name if you’re a toilet paper.”

The joke didn’t land. While Anderson probably should have avoided the joke (and know the guy’s name before a national broadcast), the real reason why no one found his remark funny is because Whitecloud is the first person from the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation to play in the NHL.

Related: ESPN Has a History of Bashing Its Viewers and Business Partners

Of course, if you have Indian heritage, this means that the media will make sure they protect you from any “offensive” remarks and treat you as untouchable. 

Such treatment could have made Whitecloud feel entitled to lash out back at Anderson for his mistake. Instead, he refrained from engaging in cancel culture tactics and gave the broadcaster grace.

“I had a conversation with John this morning at the rink here. He offered his apology, and explained his side, obviously, of what occurred last night. Obviously, I think it was an attempt at humor that came out as obviously being insensitive. He acknowledges that. He understands that it was wrong to say, and again, I wanted to make sure he knew I accepted his apology. People make mistakes, and this is a scenario where not just John, but everyone can learn from and move forward in a positive direction and try to be better.”

For his part, Anderson quickly issued a public apology to - no pun intended - put the situation on ice.

“This is totally on me and I sincerely apologize to Zach, the Golden Knights, their fans and everyone else for what I said,” Anderson wrote in a statement. “It’s my job to be prepared and know the backgrounds of the players and I blew it.”

This is how mature adults resolve conflict. You talk things out, acknowledge what happened, apologize if necessary, and move on. There’s a lesson for all of us in this.

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