Editor’s Note: So moved by P.K. Subban’s Blueline Buddies program, Edmonton-based friend o’ Rinkside Allison Currie shares her unique perspective on how this program has affected her.
By Allison Currie – Special to Rinkside Report
To say P.K. Subban has been a polarizing figure in professional sports is a bit of an understatement. It seems if you’re part of the old school thinking that hockey players should wear the basic 2-piece suit, celebrate goals with just a fist bump, and “give it 110%, one game at a time,” that Subban can be disrespectful, even selfish. The crowd who loves personality and blame “dust in their eyes” for the slight tears that well up after watching the 28-year-old visit young ones at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, find him to be a refreshing character and one more players need to be like.
My first Subban experience was at the 2009 World Junior Championships in Ottawa, as roughly 17,000 rabid Team Canada fans chanted, “P.K.! P.K.! P.K.!” His most recent venture in helping the community has me wanting to chant the same thing; although, admittedly, it’d be a little weird for me to just start chanting that in my chair reading articles.
This season, with full support of the Nashville Predators, the defenseman created the Blueline Buddies program. To bridge the gap between policing and community, the program brings together a member of the Metro Nashville Police Department and their guest, a mentor from a local organization, and an underprivileged youth. They’re given tickets to a Preds home game and get to have dinner at Bridgestone Arena and meet with P.K. prior to and after the game. It allows youth to see another side of members of the MNPD beyond the uniform and badge.
Subban recognizes that there is a disconnect between civilians and police, especially with current events in the U.S. and viral videos that seem to portray an abuse of power. There is heightened tension between the two groups that creates mistrust. As an already scrutinized figure, it is commendable that Subban has put himself in a position to be further criticized for having a “pro-police” stance. It’s not a popular position to take. It only takes a quick search online to see the vulgar replies to news about Blueline Buddies and the accusations hurled towards the player.
I want to publicly thank P.K.
As the significant other of a police officer, this program means a little more to me. I sat with tears in my eyes as I read about Blueline Buddies, nearly in awe of this player who would put himself in the line of scrutiny to do what he felt was right and to put a real effort into finding a solution.
When I entered a relationship with an officer, I thought I knew what the difficult parts were. I thought the toughest part would be knowing your loved one was risking their safety every time they left for work.
I thought the second toughest part would be the grueling schedule, having to coordinate schedules so maybe you could see each other in a week or so, maybe you’d have just enough time for a quick text conversation as you’re getting up for work and your partner is just getting to bed after an 11-hour night shift.
I was wrong.
Yes, it is tough to get to your partner’s home to see a mark across his face and his response to what happened is, “I had to arrest a guy who didn’t want to be arrested.”
Yes, you hold down the urge to puke as you watch live footage of a terrorist being tracked by local police after he ran down a member of the police force; a member who was outside a football game working a shift your other half quite often works. You have the thought of, “That could have been him.”
What I didn’t expect, however, is that I would log on to Facebook and suddenly notice friends and family sharing one-sided videos and articles, condemning police for their actions. Those pieces were most likely always shared, I just blindly scrolled past them before. Now, they feel like a personal shot at the person I love. You tell yourself, “Don’t read the comments,” but you do. You read the comments and regret it, wishing you could lash out at people when it seems like they are directly referring to your loved one as a power-hungry thug. You struggle to bite your tongue when you see both friends and strangers post news articles that only show one side of the story.
Those social media shares don’t do anything to solve the problem. Those shares do the exact opposite, spreading half-truths that create a greater divide and builds further mistrust.
Programs like P.K.’s Blueline Buddies are what will be productive. Whether you support law enforcement, believe they are every negative stereotype, or are somewhere in between, there is no denying that a real effort to bring the two sides together is what will bring progress. He is exposing both ‘sides’ to one another and building relationships. Working together and changing both sides’ ideas of one another, one home game at a time, are what leads to real change.
Thank you, PK, for putting yourself in an unpopular position. Thank you for helping to create real change. Hopefully other teams will now follow suit, after recognizing the success in Nashville and the importance of this initiative.