Yesterday we posted about the new "Latino" jersey premiering for the AHL's Rockford IceHogs on November 16, and besides one person on our site who respectfully disagreed, the majority of our Facebook and Twitter communities thought the #NoMames for a "Los IceHogs Night" was well-deserved.
Apparently, the IceHogs got the blessing of Rockford's local coalition of Latino leaders, as this report reveals.
Earlier today, our founder wrote his weekly column for NBC Latino, where he got the IceHogs and a member from Rockford's Coalition of Latino Leaders to comment about the "Los IceHogs" event. An IceHogs spokesperson apologized if the jersey and the event offended anyone, but at the same time admitted that a bit of controversy is good for business. In addition, a CLL member said this was "entertainment" and that if people were offended they should just "get over it."
They are missing the point, but you can decide by reading the entire NBC Latino column.
As for us and what we think? We can do so much better. Instead of spouting out the same old and stale stereotypes, the IceHogs could have gone a bit deeper. For example, play to how sports is a big part of Latino culture. Turn the hockey arena into a soccer or baseball atmosphere. Announce the whole game in Spanish. Honor Latinos who have played pro hockey (yes, many have played). The possibilities are endless. Too bad the IceHogs didn't challenge conventional thinking a bit more. If they did, they would have got the same national attention, but for the right reasons.
Instead, we get images that border on cultural racism, Latino groups that defend these images, and local clueless anchors who like to close their segments with lines such as these: "And Mimi, they're giving away free maracas next Friday night, too!" Oh boy, you know how those Latinos love their maracas! ARRIBA! ARRIBA!
I appreciate it if the IceHogs did consult with Mr. Valdez and other community leaders before doing this and I can appreciate if the team wants to make an effort to reach the community (who doe$n’t?) But I would encourage teams that do these things to reach out to the culture and use less imagery. I think the shirt is more cheesy than it is offensive and maybe if it was included with other authentic cultural things it wouldn’t be so bad. Instead of silly giveaways, I would encourage them to invite Latino DJs and maybe one of the great Durangense bands of Chicago. They could also invite local vendors to sell authentic Latino foods. Really the thing that Latinos enjoy the most is each other’s company and spending time with family and friends. If they were to reach out to various Latino businesses and organizations in the community and put together discount ticket plans, it would be a way for groups of friends and families to sit together and during the game. I know other organizations, like the Phillies, have done this in the past with their Puerto Rican heritage night. I had friends that enjoyed the game because they could sit with their friends with the tickets they got through some organization at a discount. I think they piped Salsa music through the PA in between innings and my friend was most excited about the fact that their was a Puerto Rican player on the team at the time to cheer for (I think it was Ricky Ledee). I don’t know if I give the IceHogs an epic NoMames fail on this one, but there are definitely more authentic ways to engage the community. Maybe they did do some of these things, but they should have taken center stage and not cheezy t-shirt. .
@DignityPeace they should hire you as a consultant! Too many great ideas!
The IceHogs organization has been a ally to the Rockford region’s Latino community. Unfortunately the article does not accurately reflect the positive partnership nor the amount of time and effort that went into preparing for the Los IceHogs event. Many Latinos shared their thoughts since the idea was first mentioned on March 30.
Missing from the article was the mention of the live Latino band that will play between the action on the ice, the bilingual announcer calling plays in English and Spanish, the donation to La Voz Latina (the regions largest Latino organization), the tables that will have brochures regarding education/support resources/employment opportunities for Latinos, and other information that would have provided a better context for the event.
I was surprised to hear that I needed to justify the uniform or else a bad opinion would be written. So providing justification to the author of the article would have avoided creating controversy; give me a break! Maybe I should have mentioned that the colors of the uniform we’re the same color palate as the feathers on the Blackhawk warrior. Am I allowed to say warrior, or for football can I say fighting Irish?
The organization that runs the IceHogs has been working with the CLL to increase the entertainment experience for the Latino community. I guess booking George Lopez or Paul Rodriguez would be too controversial and don’t even get me started on the controversy Carlos Mencia would bring.
I wonder how many people found the Los IceHogs planned event to be offensive, but not the Will Ferrel movie, “La Casa de mi Padre,” “The Three Amigos” with Steve Martin, or Continflas for the older generation. Let’s be consistent when it comes to good natured entertainment.
There have been many more positive comments in the blogs that have had posted on the Los IceHogs event. Comments like “Awesome,” “Over the top funny,” and “That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen, where can I get one.”
I was asked if I agreed with the comment that controversy Is good for business. I did not know how to answer the question until now. After seeing the overwhelming response for the Los IceHogs jersey and the quantity of comments in all the blogs/articles, I can now state that controversy is good for business, whether it is hockey or writing in an article in a website.
Dear @RudyValdez first of all, thanks for taking the time to comment here. A few things you should know: 1. I did not write the piece on this site, I wrote the piece for NBC Latino, which is the piece I interviewed you for. 2. It is great that many things were added to the event, I wonder why those more positive things were not displayed on the event poster, instead of Dora, maracas and an IceHog in a sombrero. 3. Like I told you on the phone, I am opinion writer for NBC. I don’t agree with parts of this event and the images that a Latino group gave a blessing on. You said that people should “get over it,” but you cannot deny the fact that the images you so proudly promote are not problematic to people in the Latino community. You make reference to a few comments on one blog post that was used to promote the event. I invite you to see the many other comments that don’t agree with what you are saying. 4. As for Three Amigos and La casa de mi padre, I think you are just using examples to justify why you and your group are defending your decisions. Hey, if Hollywood can do it, why can’t we? The fact that you are using Hollywood to defend stereotypes says it all for me. 5. Let’s not be naive here and say that using such images had no intent of creating buzz and controversy. I congratulate you and the IceHogs for exploiting such stale and tired stereotypes to increase Latino awareness and make money. Te felcito. 6. Let’s be consistent when it comes to promoting the message and the vision which we all share. Thanks for your time and if you think I was out to “get” you because of our conversation, that is your right. But nothing I reported about what you said is inaccurate. You told me to “get over it” and that I was being too sensitive and I asked you straight up to convince me why the jersey was a good idea. You gave me your answer. I don’t agree with it. Such is life.
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