The Flyers had nothing to do with the Mummers’ incident on New Year’s Day where two members of the comic brigade Froggy Carr were seen wearing blackface during a skit that was meant as a tribute to Gritty and the team.
The Flyers logo and Gritty costumes and signs were everywhere. And then there were the two heathens in blackface. Their comments afterwards were disgusting. Froggy Carr was rightfully disqualified. Further penalties could and should be coming. The story went national with Gritty and the Flyers in the headlines all across the country and plenty of orange and black photos accompanying them.
The Flyers had no interest being part of this awful story of racial insensitivity, but the fact is, we live in a society today where headlines and a photo are all people see and read, and as such, the Flyers were having their name, their brand and their trademark being associated with an act of racism.
Not to mention, the team’s full name is Philadelphia Flyers. That means they represent the city – a city that is roughly 45 percent African-American.
So, they really had no choice but to issue a statement disavowing this act and separating themselves from the incident.
Crossing Broad was able to obtain that statement first Thursday night:
“The Flyers had no knowledge or involvement in this group’s usage of our team colors, logo and mascot imagery within its presentation, nor did we have any knowledge of the planned skit. We stand united with the entire Philadelphia community in condemning the brigade’s offensive racial symbolism.”
It was the right thing for the organization to do.
Sure, there are some that will argue the Flyers didn’t have to say anything. That the organization was not involved with this activity in any way, so there is no reason for them to insert themselves in the story.
And I’m sure there was discussion to that fact before the statement was released.
But here’s the thing – if you are unwittingly dragged into an act of “offensive racial symbolism” you have to do whatever you can to first, separate yourself from it, and secondly, nay simultaneously, disavow and condemn it.
The Flyers response may not have been swift, but it was measured, it was strong and it was appropriate.
Consider this a lesson learned from how the Kate Smith matter was handled a little more than a year ago.