By Terrence Tomlin @tomlindoesit
It's no secret that for most of us that grew up in the inner-city of Chicago, the sport of hockey has always been considered a "white" sport, while more popular sports like baseball, football and basketball are all equipped with a long-standing history of black excellence.
The average sports fan knows that Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were pioneers on and off the court during their time in the NBA.
Most casual fans know that Jim Brown was a symbol of Black pride as he became an all-time great rusher in the NFL.
Every stadium in Major League Baseball recognizes Jackie Robinson's legacy as the man to break the color barrier which impacted not only the entire sports world but the entire country.
In hockey... the puck?
Well at least that is the reputation that the sport carries. The fact of the matter is that when you think of the sport of hockey, one of the last things you think of is Black History. However, that could not be further from the truth. Black history certainly exists in the story of hockey, let's just say that it has been frozen beneath the ice. Thankfully, Director Damon-Kwame Mason has come to recover that history and has sculpted it into the masterful and very necessary sports documentary, "Soul On Ice: Past, Present & Future".
Wearing his passion for the sport on his sleeve, Mason confronts the myth that hockey is "whiter than the ice" by centering the story around Jaden Lindo, a young black hockey player on the path of chasing his lifelong dream of becoming an NHL player. While getting a front row seat to Jaden's journey, you are treated to an in-depth look at the background stories of some of hockey's current and former African-American NHL players like Grant Fuhr, Trevor Daley, Wayne Simmonds, and P.K. Subban just to name a few. Them, along with their families reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly of rising to the top of a sport that many feel they were never meant to play.
The jewel of "Soul On Ice" are the thorough accounts of the "real" history of hockey that go back as far as the 1890's with the "Coloured Hockey League" in Nova Scotia, Canada. A nearly 40 year old all-black hockey league that laid the foundation and were the first to instill some of the rules still used in the game today. Tales of Willie O'Ree, who broke the color barrier in the NHL in 1957 and earned the title, "The Jackie Robinson of Hockey", make "Soul On Ice" a must-see for not just hockey historians but for any sports fan that has ever felt that hickey wasn't for them.
Mason also dives into the issue of the lack of African-American participation in youth hockey. In a discussion that took place after a viewing of "Soul on Ice" at The New 400 Theater on the north side of Chicago earlier this month, he urged parents to not let stereotypes stop them from encouraging their kids to experience the sport of hockey. "They don't necessarily have to play in the National Hockey League. They could get a college degree, get their referee license and become a referee to make some side money." Mason cotinued by saying "They could work inside the offices of some of these teams like the Blackhawks. It's so many different opportunities but you just have to go in there and open their minds."
"Soul On Ice: Past, Present & Future" will air on "Starz inBlack" May 20th and can be viewed right now on Starz OnDemand.