Thoughts on Datsyuk’s Comments

As I’ve said on Twitter today, I’ve tried writing this post several times and have stopped myself for various reasons.

I don’t want to bring politics to DetroitHockey.Net but sometimes the sports world reaches out into bigger issues, as it has with athletes commenting on Russia’s anti-LGBT laws in advance of the Sochi Olympics next February. Last weekend we had Henrik Zetterberg speaking out against the legislation to much fanfare. Today we got comments from Pavel Datsyuk; comments which weren’t as well-received.

My position – I am Orthodox. That says it all.

By deferring to his religion, Datsyuk seems to be in support of laws that deny a portion of the Russian population what many consider to be basic human rights.

Is that truly what Datsyuk believes? If so, is it somehow “okay” in the context of religion? Or did he only say it as a political move, as not toeing the party line could lead to his being left off Team Russia for the Olympics?

Over at Winging it in Motown, J.J. from Kansas had a nice piece on his reaction, most of which I agree with but specifically this:

Personally? I’m disappointed to learn about this. I’m not angry and I don’t suddenly dislike Datsyuk, nor do I agree with any charge that any kind of moral code requires me to answer a judgment with a judgment. I wish I knew that Datsyuk didn’t agree with the head of his church when it comes to gay rights. I don’t wish he weren’t religious nor do I think that his being religious or even being a member of a church which promotes an agenda with which I disagree makes him a bad person.

Barry Petchesky at Deadspin asks this:

Do we really only want to hear about our athletes’ ideologies if they agree with our own?

I’m saddened that one of my favorite Red Wings seems to disagree with my personal worldview but I think it’s naive to assume that everyone I root for would have the same opinions or morals or ideology or whatever as I do.

Look around the NHL and you’ve got Florida prospect Rocco Grimaldi, who I would call a religious nutjob. Tim Thomas spent a year hiding in his Colorado bunker (a slight exaggeration, perhaps). Dany Heatley actually got a guy killed. Todd Bertuzzi nearly did.

The Wings alone have probably twenty prospects who won’t shut up about music that I can’t stand.

Whether it’s a big issue or some stupid little thing, we don’t have to agree with the players we support on the ice. If we knew more about all of the players we’d probably like them a lot less.

So, yes, I’m disappointed. No, it won’t stop me from rooting for him. I’d love to debate the issue with him but mostly I wish it was a non-issue so we didn’t feel the need to talk about it.