Let’s be clear of my opinion right from the beginning:
- The reasons for removing the Kate Smith statue from the Flyers stadium area is bull shit.
- The reason for erecting the Kate Smith statue in the first place is bull shit.
No one can convince me there needed to be a Kate Smith statue erected just because folks want to believe she brought the Flyers good luck singing ‘God Bless America.’ If that logic makes sense, I expect to see a statue of Ashli Rice erected at Talen Energy Park soon for all the times the Union soccer team won thanks to her singing the national anthem before a game. You know that ain’t about to happen.
Philly loves their so-called heroes having a statue. To think someone was convinced Rocky would have a statue (1982) before Joe Frazier (2015) has lost their damn minds. For the Flyers to not have gotten around to putting up a Bobby Clarke/Bernie Parent statue until 2011 when Kate Smith went up in 1987 still baffles me.
In the past couple years, a lot of currently unworthy statues have been taken down, especially in the deep south, creating a lot of angst from those not in total agreement. However, the reasons for removing the Kate Smith statue borders on ridiculous.
I confess to ignoring this story for a while. The headlines made me believe she was being taken down because she sang ‘God Bless America.’ I ignorantly assumed there were some racist lyrics in that song that was creating some type of Colin Kaepernick backlash similar to the lyrics in the national anthem. When I learned Kate had sung some other ‘period pieces’ years ago that surely wouldn’t fly in today’s climate, my bull shit meter kicked in. If we search hard enough, we could probably find Sylvester Stallone saying something to someone once upon a time that qualifies his statue coming down. Is it really that serious?
In 2011, the Flyers traded for Wayne Simmonds, a rare black player in the NHL. He turned out to be a great addition to the team, an assistant captain, and was the MVP in the 2017 All-Star game, scoring 3 goals, including the game winner. During the entire 2017–18 season, Simmonds played with a tear in his pelvis area, torn groin, fractured ankle, torn thumb ligament and a busted jaw. Despite this long list of injuries, Simmonds was still able to break the 40-point mark on the season. His production slipped considerably in his final contract year and the Flyers got rid of him, as they should.
Despite his greatness as a Flyer, I could never find a Simmonds jersey at any of the Modell’s or Dick’s sporting good stores. (No, I really don’t want a Giroux jersey). The clerk at the team shop at the Wells Fargo arena told me they had Simmonds’ jerseys but couldn’t keep them in stock because the white women kept selling them out.
About 3 weeks ago, a collector friend of mine found an authentic one at a flea market for a ridiculously low price and called me to ask if I wanted him to get it. Of course.
I don’t know what I’m concluding. It’s all part of the crazy world of sports, race, and what you consider an icon.