Vancouver Canucks prospect Jordan Subban identified as 'dark guy in the middle' in photo caption; Vancouver Sun apologizes

A Vancouver Sun photo caption published Tuesday evening called attention to Subban's ethnicity (CTV News Channel image)
A Vancouver Sun photo caption published Tuesday evening called attention to Subban's ethnicity (CTV News Channel image)

There are two ways or 'let's agree to disagree' about it — publishing a photo caption that refers to an athlete by his ethnicity, is a racial double standard. It might also be a comment about staffing levels at some of our nation's big city dailies, but that's not as here or there.

Overnight, like with his older brother, Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban, Vancouver Canucks draft pick Jordan Subban had the thrill of scoring a NHL preseason game tempered by an unintentional insult. It was also a reminder that as an Afro-Caribbean Canadian playing the country's alpha sport, "simply being who he is" means things happen to Jordan Subban that would never happen to white hockey players.

Long story short, somehow staff at the Postmedia papers in Vancouver allowed a photo caption to appear online that referred to the 19-year-old Subban, who plays for the Belleville Bulls in the Ontario Hockey League, as the "dark guy in the middle." Brutal. The Sun, understandably, has issued an apology.

The Vancouver Sun and The Province used the same caption to accompany a photo of Subban taken Tuesday at a pre-season matchup between the Canucks and the San Jose Sharks in Vancouver ... A caption accompanying the photo reads: "Vancouver Canucks celebrate goal by Jordan Subban (dark guy in the middle) against San Jose Sharks in NHL pre season game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C., on September 23, 2014." (CTVNews.ca)

Generally, the 'always assume the microphone is live' rule that prevails in broadcast media applies axiomatically to the written-word medium. Photographers' captions, speaking as former 'shooter' who has been an editor of sorts for 10 years, often require cleaning up. It is poor judgement, though, to be so insensitive. It also seems rather redundant when Subban, as the goal scorer, was in the middle of a group of five celebrating players, with two to his left and two to his right.

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The Sun apologized, as well it should have. It is just too bad that, for Jordan Subban, the people close to him and those who have followed his career, that some idiocy detracted from a big moment.

Some might say it was a coincidence, but Dave Lozo did an excellent desconstruction last season of "coincidence" as it applies to hockey commentary about the Subbans. Others might say "dark guy" is analogous to "tall guy," but there is no history of racism against tall people.

That Lozo commentary was published after members of the Ottawa Senators thought P.K. Subban celebrated too much after scoring the overtime winning goal for the Montreal Canadiens. Jordan Subban and the Belleville Bulls played an OHL game in the same arena later that week and he was booed every time he touched the puck. Perhaps that happens to any young brother of a NHL star in that situation, but one is left wondering what's coincidental and what's due to him being who he is.


Update: the Vancouver Sun is vowing it will not just write this off as a honest mistake.

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Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet