Last week, Players Against Hate (PAH) launched a database for reporting racist incidents in hockey. It is the first public database cataloguing racism in youth hockey. The fact that this kind of oversight and data gathering mechanism is new to hockey, is telling in and of itself. PAH received a grant from the Palmer Foundation to create this platform along with educational modules. Players, parents, referees, coaches and others can all submit incident reports. Most importantly, these reports can be made anonymously. The press release notes that the form is open to all players in North America. This database is far from the solution to racism, but it does add a significant piece that has been missing from the puzzle. I reached out to Tammi Lynch, Founder of PAH, via email to ask some questions about the database. It’s a small but mighty initiative that needs some help getting the word out, so please let the players in your life know that someone is willing to listen to their experience of racism.
How long did it take to put the form together?
The concept of collecting data regarding racial incidents in hockey had been something I had wanted to do since the organization started. As I started to learn more about racism in hockey, I couldn’t believe that there was no data about it. In the spring of 2019, I started drafting the specifications for what information was needed. Given my background as a special ed teacher, data is the basis of what I do every day. From my perspective, until you know what the problem looks like, you can’t address it well. The information that is collected on the form is the information that I felt would be valuable to understand and address the issue. However, I didn’t start working with a developer in detail on the actual creation of the form until this spring.
How will the incident information be shared and how often will it be made available?
Because the process is so new, I have not yet determined specifics on the public reporting of the data. I believe that a summary would be most appropriate at this point in time. Pertinent information will be periodically released and available through the website. However, I need to see the frequency in which data is being reported, the type of incidents that are occurring, and the location where incidents are occurring before I finalize what would be most useful to the general public.
The detailed, granular information will be used to inform, target, and support the curriculum we are developing. However the data belongs to PAH and we will ensure that no personal information is released without the express consent of the person who filed the report. We want to ensure that we remain a neutral source of information. Presently the data will only be viewed by myself. I anticipate that there will be a limited number of people within or contracted to the organization that I provide with some information based on a significant need.
In addition to information available to general public, I will determine which organizations (such as USAH, Hockey Canada, NHL, or another entity) would be interested and use certain data appropriately and for a purpose that PAH deems to support our purpose. Right now my focus is making sure that players, teams, clubs, and affiliates are aware that this app/tool is available for people to file reports.
Do I read the form correctly, that you want people to report both new and old incidents that may already have been dealt with through their associations etc.?
My intention was for reporting to occur in real time. However, if someone wants to report an incident that happened in the past, that is fine too. I would use information that is not from the current season, as anecdotal data.
Have you started receiving reports yet?
We have not started receiving reports yet. However, We just started pushing out the news at the end of last week. It is crucial to get the information to the players that are impacted by this.
Is there any intention for Players Against Hate to support the escalation of reports through the system? In other words, is there support available should people want go to the media or seek legal options?
While there is an option for people who complete a report to include their names/email addresses, people also have the option of remaining anonymous. The form itself does not have a space to request support. However, I have spoken to parents privately about incidents that have occurred with their player. People reach out to me periodically regarding an incident that has occurred and we talk parent to parent, but I will not encourage or dissuade a person from seeking legal representation. I am not a lawyer or police officer, just a hockey mom who needed to speak out when I heard about a racist incident occurring.
There doesn’t seem to be a prompt for the level of play for which an incident occurs, is this intentional?
As I was initially figuring out what information I wanted to collect, level of play was not something that stood out as crucial. As the form starts being used and more people provide feedback, I will certainly take the feedback into consideration. Level and age are 2 pieces of data that would be helpful. Thank you for asking that question.
Will the educational videos be freely available or will they need to be purchased?
Our plan is to develop a curriculum that will be tailored to each age group, and can also be tailored based on the demographics of a particular club or region. Videos can be valuable as a supporting tool or as a stand alone Public Service Announcement. Beliefs and values that are a part of racist culture can’t be changed by watching videos.
I currently have a team of experts (teachers, school counselors, D&I facilitators, etc.) who will be working to develop the curriculum and we just received grant funding to do so. This is another goal that I started working on as soon as the organization was formed. Our goal is for the curriculum to be used across the country. We will pilot the curriculum on a small scale to work out any kinks prior to ramping it up on a larger scale.
What are you hoping the educational videos will be like with respect to length and target ages? Will there be different videos for coaches, players, and parents?
While the curriculum will be primarily for players, we will need supplemental materials for coaches and parents as well. That will be developed along with the curriculum.
When are you expecting to have the videos available?
Our intent is to have the pilot curriculum ready this spring.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
I would love for people to keep spreading our message both on social media and word of mouth. Ask your readers to share that we have an online reporting tool. People’s reporting is essential to showing the scope and nature of the problem to the broader hockey community. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Check out our website. Purchase helmet stickers for your entire team or club. Wear our merch so that everyone knows that you, your team or club supports our message. The larger we can grow our footprint, the better. We have already reached Europe and Asia and are working to continue our growth exponentially. We are a very small organization; we rely on donations and profits from our items to fund our initiatives. We are always searching for skilled volunteers: graphic designers, legal minds, clerical support, social media experts, filmmakers, mentors, financial whizzes, grant writers, just to name a few. The accomplishments and inroads we have made so far have largely been due to a very receptive press and my work behind the scenes evenings and weekends.