Sportsnet has fired flamboyant hockey commentator Don Cherry for the offensive xenophobic remarks he made during his Coach’s Corner segment Saturday night.
Cherry is infamous for shifting away from his hockey commentary to give his take on other subjects including his love of the Canadian military and the sacrifices they have made for the country.
Last Saturday night, Cherry launched a tirade against Canadians immigrants whom he said did not buy poppies for Remembrance Day.
“You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said.
“These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”
Cherry’s remarks sparked immediate outrage. Viewers said his comments were racist, xenophobic, and ill-informed.
Sportsnet announced Cherry’s firing today after two days of social media outrage.
The Broadcast Council of Canada had so many complaints about Cherry’s remarks, it had to stop taking complaints.
The Canadian Broadcast Corporation released a statement shortly after Cherry’s firing saying that his words were “divisive” and they respected Sportsnet’s decision to fire Cherry.
Budweiser, the sponsor of Coach’s Corner, put out a statement condemning Cherry’s remarks.
“The comments made Saturday on Coach’s Corner were clearly inappropriate and divisive, and in no way reflect Budweiser’s views,” said Todd Allen, vice-president of marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada, which has Budweiser as one of its brands. “As a sponsor of the broadcast, we immediately expressed our concerns and respect the decision which was made by Sportsnet today.”
The Royal Canadian Legion released a statement in support of Sportsnet’s decision, saying that Cherry’s personal opinions were “hurtful”.
Twitter users such as @sulemaan were quick to remind Cherry that Canadian immigrants were amongst to ones to serve for Canada during the first and second world wars.
Mayor of Toronto John Tory called Cherry’s comments “unfair and just plain wrong”. Tory said Cherry should come to Old City Hall on Remembrance Day to see “thousands of Canadians of all ages, nationalities, faiths and backgrounds’ honouring its veterans.
Hockey Canada released a comment condemning Cherry’s comments. In the statement, they did not mention Cherry by name.
Several viewers said that they were also upset with Cherry’s co-host Ron MacLean. Those viewers wish MacLean would have stepped in and corrected Cherry.
MacLean issued an apology today saying that he wished he had handled himself differently.
MacLean said on Scotiabank Hometown Hockey from Welland, Ont., that Cherry’s comments were “flat out wrong.”
Cherry did not issue an apology.
He told Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun, “I had my say. It seems to have upset people,” said Cherry. “Like I said, Joe, you can put in that I said my piece and I will leave it there.”
Cherry talked to Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun shortly after the news of his firing. Cherry said that he is going to speak his truth. “I speak the truth and I walk the walk,” he told Warmington. “I have visited the bases of the troops, been to Afghanistan with our brave soldiers at Christmas, been to cemeteries of our fallen around the world and honoured our fallen troops on Coach’s Corner. To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot.”
Skedline reporter Christian Holmes took to the streets of Toronto to ask Torontionans their thoughts on Cherry’s comments.
This is what he got:
Lifelong Hockey Night In Canada fan Sean O’Neil said Cherry should have been gone years ago. “They [Sportsnet] should have canned him [Cherry] years ago. I don’t understand where the ratings come from anymore,” O’Neil said. “I don’t know anyone who watches him anymore. I guess I’m not hanging with people who do.”
Vinny Bridgewater said he is not pleased with Cherry’s remarks. “Cherry is the straw that broke the camel’s back. The dino needs to go extinct,” Bridgewater said. “I’ve been watching Hockey Night In Canada for decades and I’ve been fed up with him [Cherry] for the last five or more years. He’s a racist that needs to be put out to pasture.”
Matt Corrie said if Cherry would have phrased his comments another way that did not sound anti-immigrant, Cherry might have gotten a better response. “I see what he was trying to say,” said Corrie. “Clearly it came across in a not so good way. That’s not how I would’ve said it.”
John Burrows said he loved Cherry’s message if it would have been intended for all Canadians. “Someone had to say it and it was him [Cherry]. It is pathetic the lack of support this country shows our troops,” Burrows said. “I wish he would have said it differently. You can tell he was rethinking what he was saying while he was saying it when he stuttered through it.”
Wally Mercer said he agrees with what Cherry is saying about buying a poppy but is upset with Cherry’s anti-immigrant sentiment. “Coming from a guy whose grandfather was part of the first troops that liberated Holland and got an award from their government for it and lost a great reat uncle on the beach at Normandy, wear your damn poppy,” Mercer said. “The immigrant thing was uncalled for. As much as I love Cherry, we are a welcoming country. We always have been and hopefully always will be.”
Ryan Griska is on the fence on Cherry’s comments. “On one side, I agree with Cherry. Hell, I feel it a lot, but that automatically makes me racist, according to the PC crowds,” Griska said.
“On the other hand, the address of his words was over the top and should have been more monotone and not exclusively directed. At the very least, Cherry should have been more specific and particular in his own wording. It was a pretty vague statement.”
Kurt Vosper said that it is time for Don Cherry to get off the air. “Making a comment with no basis or factual evidence. Same as the idiots every year who say Muslims are opposed to poppy sales,” said Vosper. “Muslims are not and the Legion has confirmed that idea is untrue. Time for him to go.”
AAqib Sakhia said that the only way Cherry’s comments would have meant anything positive is if Cherry had intended them for all of Canada. “I hardly see anyone, regardless of race, wearing poppies anymore unless they are media people or elected officials,” Sakhia said. “If Cherry said, ‘Everyone should honour those who served and wear a poppy,’ that would be one thing. Targeting immigrants in his rant is another.”