Through multi-generational testimony from Black hockey players, we learn about the racism endured by athletes from teammates, coaches, leagues, and fans alike who believe they don’t belong in the sport. There’s no timidity in the doc’s testimonies. The film affords its subjects the same blunt expression that has been weaponized against them, and the result is unfiltered emotional depth that translates poignantly.
“Black Ice” understands at its core the fatigue of Black people used for their talents and skill, paraded as athletic representation of the cities they play for, who are constantly abused privately and publicly. From covert comments like “uncoachability” to equipment managers dressing in Blackface and coaches berating Black players for warming up to rap music, there’s no limit to the casual implementation of violence and absolutely zero room for interpretation.
“Black Ice” is about Black hockey players, but also contains damning examinations of the ways that sports culture is a microcosm of general culture. Hockey is a Canadian pride and joy, and with that being said, the abuse allowed within it is itself a statement of priority. One of the most horrifically ironic moments in the movie details a white man who threw a banana at a Black player, only to come out and say he wants to move past it and continue forward with his career aspirations in policing.
One of the film’s strongest tenets is its multi-generational and gender inclusive lens. On the younger end of the spectrum, we hear stories about the monetary costs playing hockey—from gear to lessons to team expenses—that create a level of financial inaccessibility in the predominantly white sport. Yet we also hear cherished memories from the sport’s older athletes and pioneers, who would pour out buckets of water on a cold day to create their own rink. “Black Ice” examines the evolution from outright exclusion to predatory inclusion that took place in the sport.