Democrat or Republican, racism and
nationalism should never be a factor in hockey, regardless of individual political
Hector V. got his first taste of
hockey at one of the LA Kings street events when he was just five years-old. Kid
was a natural born skater who took to the game like few others. If you thought
he was hell on wheels in street hockey, you should see him on ice. The now
twelve-year old has to take his game back to Mexico due to USA Hockey's new
politically motivated legislation.
Like many other California immigrants,
Hector's parents came to the United States to find a better life for Hector. The
boy did what he was told to. He is an excellent student as well as the ultimate
linemate. "I'm just not me without Hector," said his best friend and
right-winger Alex. "Hector is fast and can pass."
Now it looks like USA Hockey has
passed on an entire segment of the immigrant population and it appears to be an
issue isolated to USA Hockey.
USA Hockey has elected to take the
entire immigration debate to the hockey rinks.
USA Hockey Mission
" The mission of USA Hockey is to
promote a "fun and learning" environment for the growth of the sport and all
its participants and enthusiasts by encouraging, educating, developing, and
administrating all aspects of the sport.
The USA Hockey mission statement for its Youth
Programs is as follows:
" To provide an innovative grassroots
foundation for the growth and development of USA Hockey, designing programs
aimed at increased participation, improved skills and a responsible environment
for the conduct of youth hockey.
This all looks fine and dandy until what
happened after last year's Tier I 14u National Championship won by Wilkes-Barre
Scranton. The team was loaded with international players and as a result, this
knee-jerk reaction has taken place.
The classifications in Section C.(1)
above are restricted to U.S. citizens, subject to the following exceptions:
1. Players who are citizens of another
country and residing in the U.S. with a parent shall be considered eligible if
the parent(s) holds one of the following legal documents: Alien Registration, Receipt
Card or Permanent Resident Card. The player shall also be considered eligible if
the parent(s) hold one of the following non-immigrant temporary visas: A.
Government Official; E. Treaty Trader or Investor; G. Representative to International
Organization; H. Temporary Worker; I. Foreign Information Media Representative;
J. Exchange Alien; L. IntraCompany Transferee; M. Non-Academic Student; O.
Aliens of Extraordinary Ability; P. Athletes and Entertainers; Q. Cultural
Exchange; R. Religious Workers; and TN. Professional.
2. For players who are citizens of
another country and are residing in the U.S. without a parent, the player must
hold an Alien Registration Receipt Card or Permanent Resident Card or an F.
Academic Student classification visa or J. Exchange Alien visa.
There is not much of a secret what
race will be the most affected by this new rule. Mexico accounts for 62% of
this segment of the population. Add El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador,
and Brazil to Mexico and the Hispanic's share raises to 77%.
What does the United States Olympic
Committee think about USA Hockey's little rule? I reached out to the USOC Athlete
Ombudsman John Ruger's office and am awaiting some type of response. They did
request a copy of the new rule along with where it is being published in the
USA Hockey handbook. I happily complied.
Could you image if little league baseball
tried to do something similar to what USA Hockey is now doing? "We are an
international organization with programs operating in 80+ countries," said
Little League's Dan Velte. "Players have to present proper birth documentation,
to prove age, and reside within the geographical boundaries of the team he is registering
with. We would never have an interest in regards to the immigration status of a
What about soccer? "It would be ridicules
for us to restrict youth soccer registration in that way," said the United
States Soccer Federation's William Smith.
Is USA Hockey stepping over the
line with these new rules and is racism part of the motivation? Is a
certain political agenda being carried out at the rinks? I'll let USA Hockey
answer that while kids like Hector and his friends ponder their own fate.
"I have family in Monterrey and should
be able to play there," Hector said. His friends have other ideas. "David Beckham and the Galaxy baby!"
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Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with his wife,
Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHeisler for up to minute updates from the world of junior