Nelson Mandela: anti-apartheid activist, South Africa's first black president and...an inspiring athlete?
On Friday, a Canadian hockey player made it painfully clear that he had no idea who Mandela was — while he was at an event honoring Mandela — and the video went viral.
Attending a Toronto Raptors shindig honoring the late Mandela's life and legacy, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier was asked what he thought of the political figure.
Bernier's awkward answer:
Well obviously he’s been a tremendous athlete, you know obviously what he means to all the sports, you know the world can be changed by the sports is pretty amazing and I think he’s definitely got a lot of respect in every sport and he was definitely one of the athletes I watched growing up as well.
The Raptors put the video online, but quickly removed it after Bernier started being ridiculed.
Bernier's composure under fire in the 3rd period reminds me of the time Nelson Mandela scored 3 goals just 21 seconds apart.— Draglikepull (@draglikepull) December 10, 2014
"If Nelson Mandela got into the Hockey Hall of Fame before Phil Henderson, I'd be okay with that!" - Jonathan Bernier— Free Woody (@CHEZ106WOODY) December 10, 2014
Bernier can’t believe he was scored on by Nobel Peace Prize winning African statesman Granlund.— Chemmy (@felixpotvin) December 10, 2014
In Bernier's defense, some have argued that athletes shouldn't be expected to weigh in on politics — they should be expected to stick to sports.
Since making the public blunder, Bernier has apologized:
I'm embarrassed. I didn't mean to offend [Mandela], his legacy. I got flustered with the red carpet and I was nervous. I think everyone makes mistakes and that was me that night.
(H/T: Huffington Post)
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