The long-time host of Hockey Night in Canada, Ron McClean, was up against cancel culture after making what sounded to some like a homophobic comment on-air.
McClean made the offending comment during the Tuesday broadcast of playoff Game 4 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. Referring to a shirtless Kevin Bieksa, McClean said, “You have a photo of a guy with his tarp off, you're definitely positive for something."
Don Cherry, the colourful former co-host of Hockey Night in Canada, was recently fired from the program for xenophobic rants and a string of racist and homophobic micro-aggressions against players and colleagues.
However, McClean won’t be joining Cherry in the penalty box just yet.
The broadcaster, quickly on the defence, apologized on Twitter the following day: “I regret and apologize for what happened last night. I meant the rum." McClean went on to say that the comment was out of context and misinterpreted by viewers: "If you only heard that last line in isolation, I completely understand how that misunderstanding occurred."
The LGBTQ advocacy organization ‘You Can Play’ promotes inclusion in sports and has commented that McClean appropriately apologized for his comments and took ownership of his mistake. The organization’s vice-chair, David Palumbo, stated, "I take him at his word,” and described McClean as "a staunch ally when it comes to his historic support of the LGBTQ+ community."
McClean shared that he is deeply sorry for anyone hurt by his statement. The sports host said he’d reached out to organizations and leaders in the “equity-seeking arena” and allies within the LGBTQ2S+ community. He plans to “continue [the] joint effort to tend the hearts of us all.”
He added: "I appreciate the power of the voices who spoke to me last night and this morning. It's how change works."