Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this week sparked outrage – OK, more outrage than usual – when he suggested that the U.S. ban all Muslims from entering the country, including Muslim Americans that are, like, vacationing overseas.
“What I’m doing is I’m calling very simply for a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States — and here’s a key — until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” he reiterated this week.
Nazem Kadri, the Toronto Maple Leafs center and a practicing Muslim, has figured out what’s going on with Trump ... and he thinks the real estate magnate is delusional.
“I think he’s hurting his own campaign, to be honest,” Kadri said. “I mean, I think he’s pretty delusional. But his opinion’s his opinion.”
“It’s unfortunate that this is what it’s come to,” Kadri said. “But I mean, that being said, I’m lucky to live in a country like Canada, where people of political stature don’t say those kinds of things to make people feel out of place.”
(Kudos, by the way, to Sean FitzGerald for wading into political waters in a hockey locker room, and specifically asking about a Republican candidate in a sport whose athletes generally lean right. At least fiscally.)
All of this just underscores how important diversity is in hockey, and particularly in the NHL.
Kadri was born to Lebanese parents in Ontario. Growing up, he didn’t have any Muslim or Middle Eastern role models in the NHL, and understands the role he plays in being one. Now you have Kadri, and you have Nail Yakupov (a Muslim, though not devout), and you have at least some representation.
Which is important, as Naveed Bahadur, a social worker who helps run a ball hockey league in Toronto, told Al Jazeera when that network did a story on Kadri in 2014:
“Unlike other communities, they don't realize sport is important for children's development. It keeps their brains active, develops teamwork and these things are very important."
All it takes is one player that makes a kid feel included to get that kid involved. Especially when that player also isn’t afraid to stand up for that heritage against a demagogue like Donald Trump.
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