Democrat or Republican, racism and nationalism should never be a factor in hockey, regardless of individual political preferences.
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 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."
Why does USA Hockey elect to pass on an entire segment of the immigrant population? It also 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.
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%.
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," Little League's Dan Velte once said. "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 family."
What about soccer? "It would be ridicules for us to restrict youth soccer registration in that way," United States Soccer Federation's William Smith added.
Is USA Hockey stepping over the line with these 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. "I'm all about the Galaxy now baby!"