Halloween is an opportunity for people of all ages to dress up in costumes and go out for a night of fun. Some people choose to dress up as their favourite athlete, movie characters or their idols. Professional athletes, especially hockey players, also like to partake in dressing up. Usually by this time NHL teams are hosting their own costume parties but because of the lockout those parties aren't taking place. But that didn't stop Toronto Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak from dressing up as his idol. Now you're probably sitting there thinking, so what if he dressed up as his idol? The only problem is he decided to dress up as Michael Jackson, yes the black pop singer and to make his costume complete, he used black face paint to turn himself black.
Unfortunately for Bozak he decided to post a picture of his costume on twitter for the world to see. The picture was met with two different views: Some thought the costume was really cool while others saw it as a blatant attempt towards racism. Within minutes Bozak took the photo down and twitter was blowing up with people stating that he was a racist. Now to call someone a racist because he decides to "go black" and dress up like MJ is a little drastic, it's a halloween costume to pay tribute to his idol for goodness sake!
Whether you think his costume choice was racist or not, is your opinion and I'm not likely to change that. But let's all take a step back, a deep breath and think logically about this for a moment. Anytime the Toronto Sports media is fed a story of this nature obviously it's going to be blown out of proportion, it's the type of thing the media lives for. Bozak virtually threw a bunch of hungry dogs a t-bone steak, not his smartest decision. This is Bozak's second run in with the media based on a halloween costume, when himself and a few teammates dressed up as the Jamaican bobsleigh team a couple years back. He came under scrutiny for that costume and for him to think he wouldn't for this one is absurd.
But would someone who was truly a deep seeded racist dress up as a black man? It was simply a costume, just because he painted his face black doesn't mean he hates black people. Sure he could have dressed up as the "white" era MJ but he chose not too, his decision to put on that costume. But he must be willing to live with the scrutiny that comes from; Being a Leaf player, posting a controversial picture on twitter and living in the 21st century in which people can instantly respond with their thoughts.
Here's what really drives me crazy, if this had been any other regular person there wouldn't be nearly as much uproar about him becoming black to honour MJ. But because this is a "professional athlete" people act like it's the end of the world. Athletes are no different than regular people, they like to have fun. All Bozak was doing was having a little fun, and with the state of his sport can you blame him for wanting to have some fun?
So was Tyler Bozak's Michael Jackson racist, In my opinion no. Was it stupid, incredibly so. Bozak needs to smarten up and stop posting such controversial things on twitter. But for everyone who was offended by his costume, Bozak was not the first and will no be the last to wear a controversial costume for halloween.