Homophobic kiss-cam joke sparks outrage in U.K. hockey league

David Simms is an executive for the Sheffield Steelers for the Elite Ice Hockey League in the U.K., and also the team’s PA announcer. At a game last Saturday, they fired up the kiss-cam — which, as an arena gimmick, is more trouble than it’s worth — and the camera panned by two men kissing. (Simms claims it was “two lads joking around.”)

Simms said the following:

“That’s disgusting! Security, get rid of them!”

And a happy Hockey Is For Everyone month to you, sir.

Simms was roasted for this homophobic comment by fans in England and around the world. A fan petition was started asking for “acceptable action” to be taken over the incident.

He responded, to The Star:

“I am not homophobic, you have known me long enough. I haven’t got a bad bone in my body.

“If the comments made upset or offended anybody then of course I apologise completely.

“It was a fun moment on the kiss-cam, we were flicking between different couples, we were trying to trying to win (offer) tickets for the final of the Challenge Cup…and then the comment came out ‘Oh, Security, remove them immediately. Which again I apologised for if people take offence.

“Maybe I live in a different world, I can’t really see the offence I have caused. But if people have been offended…people who know me know I don’t like to offend. And I am truly sorry if I did do.”

And this is the part where, we’re sure, you wondering, “OK, but what if it was a [insert non-white and/or non-straight comparison here].”

On Twitter, Simms took turns re-tweeting those who defended him, like this:

Hiding behind it as a harmless joke, and that the outrage was for outrage’s sake:

Climbing on the cross for his actions:

And eventually arriving at a place where he was taking full responsibility and condemning the joke:

The Steelers released a statement after the firestorm, from operations manager Shawn Smith:

The club would like to put on record our sincere apology to any fans or members of the LGBT community who were offended by comments made by David Simms during the game on Saturday 4th March. In no way did Mr. Simms intend what was said in a derogatory or offensive way. David Simms has personally apologised to fans on social media, the club, the EIHL and has been in touch with LGBT direct. Thank you also to everyone who has taken time to write to the club and voice concerns over this incident.

(Intent, of course, being beside the point, but whatever.)

According to Paul Wheeler, a hockey blogger based in the U.K., there might still be more action coming as a result of the incident:

Here’s Gibson:

This is yet another reminder that “Hockey Is For Everyone” should be something more than just a slogan we tweet over photos of rainbow stick tape. It should be what we, as hockey fans, strive for. And if there’s something standing in the way of that, something that repels a fan that might otherwise embrace the game and its community, then we need to eradicate it, or at the very least understand why it might.

Hopefully the Steelers get that.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.