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Jagger Joshua: “The Ignorance of Racism Does Not Belong in Our Game”

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Jagger Joshua: “The Ignorance of Racism Does Not Belong in Our Game”

Jagger Joshua a 23-year-old fourth-year player for the Michigan State University Spartans hockey team, has spoken out following what he is calling ‘racial inaction’.

In an NCAA game against Ohio State back in mid-November, Joshua claims he was called a racial slur multiple times during the game by Kamil Sadlocha. An on-ice official heard the player in question and assessed him a game misconduct penalty. An investigation by the Big-10 ensued, but nothing further came publicly. To that, Joshua is up in arms.

“Acts of racism do not belong in hockey, as they can discourage African Americans and minorities like myself from playing and loving the game. Inaction in the face of racist comments and actions allow these behaviours to continue,” Joshua shared in a statement online.

“The inaction has left me feeling confused and pessimistic about the movement of diversity within hockey culture,” Joshua continued. “The ignorance of racism does not belong in our game, and I feel that I need to make people aware that this incident occurred, because without acknowledgement, the problem gets worse. I would like to thank my teammates, coaches, and staff at Michigan State. I am incredibly thankful for their support since this incident and as I have navigated this process.”

After Joshua’s statement went public, Gene Smith, the athletics director of Ohio State University shared an apology on behalf of his school.

“I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology to Jagger Joshua,” Smith wrote. “On behalf of Ohio State, I am so sorry. No student or student-athlete should experience hatred or racism, and everyone should feel welcome. I have spoken with Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller, and I’m thankful Jagger is getting the support he needs.”

“Over the last week, the Department of Athletics has worked through this on-ice incident and spoken with Kamil Sadlocha and the rest of the team, and Kamil is returning home and will not practice or compete at this time,” Smith said of the accused. “I have met with the men’s hockey team and will be meeting with them again soon to discuss our values. The team will complete education on racial sensitivity, diversity, equity, inclusion and the use of respectful dialog. The department and I will support them through this important process.”

Michigan State responded to the comments made by both Joshua and Smith:

“Michigan State Athletics stands with Jagger Joshua, and commends him for having the courage to speak up against racial injustice. As a department, we are committed to providing opportunities for all student-athletes to compete in a space free from discrimination, racism or hate.” – Michigan State Vice President and Director of Athletics Alan Haller

“At Michigan State, we are committed to a safe and welcoming space for our student-athletes. It is important to me that all student athletes feel comfortable and supported in our locker room and in our program. I am proud to have Jagger Joshua on our team.” – Michigan State Hockey Coach Adam Nightingale

Despite being called out by Joshua in his public statement for their lack of response/action to his racial accusation, the Big-10 did comment publicly on the matter, sharing the following statement online:

“The Big Ten Conference is committed to providing our student-athletes inclusive environments free from acts of harassment or discrimination in any form. The safety and well-being of our campus communities remains our top priority.

The conference office collected and evaluated information from the Big Ten Conference ice hockey officiating crew, The Ohio State University (OSU), Michigan State University (MSU), and available video footage stemming from an incident involving ice hockey student-athletes from both member institutions at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing on November 11, 2022. The conference supports the decision by the official to levy a game misconduct penalty on OSU. Due to the absence of indisputable evidence presented to the conference, the conference has not imposed further disciplinary action.

The conference is dedicated to listening and learning from our student-athletes, and our Equality Coalition. We will continue to work together to constructively and collectively create inclusive, empowering and accountability resources for our member institutions.”

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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