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No Touching: The Bieber Ripple Effect

Photos of musician Justin Bieber’s recent visit to the United Center are making the rounds through the internet and causing quite a stir. While many young fans are circulating their pictures of the star’s concert, Chicago Blackhawks fans are sharing photos from backstage.

The uproar touches on two levels and through two photos.

One photo shows Bieber touching the Stanley cup with one hand and making a “Number 1” motion with the other hand. This sparked the rage that Bieber, a celebrity caught wearing hats for the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins (all Blackhawk opponents these past playoffs), would dare touch hockey’s Holy Grail.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber stands on the Chicago Blackhawks logo while taking pictures in the locker room during his recent visit to the United Center in Chicago. The image has caused a stir among hockey fans.
(Brandon Newberry)

It’s true that he’s never shed blood, sweat or tears for the Cup and that he’s flipped loyalties more often than a politician-a sign of a true bandwagon fan. But he’s not the first or the last to touch the Cup and take a picture. Dozens of other celebrities, popular figures, family members and friends have laid their hands on Lord Stanley’s prize. The general public has even touched the Cup during hundreds of photo opportunities, one of which is a paid chance when visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The first time I’ve touched it.

The touching of the Cup, though a great honor, isn’t unusual. Some fans are even claiming that Beiber has now put a curse on either the Blackhawks or the Cup itself. Nonsense. He touched the Cup when the Blackhawks won in 2010. Clearly, it didn’t derail them this season.

What fans should be upset about, and many are, deals with the second photo of the Biebs. This photo shows Bieber taking a photo of the Cup on his phone while standing on the Blackhawks logo. Not even players or coaches stand or walk on the logo. Members of the media have been thrown out of the locker room for standing on the Indian Head. It’s a sign of disrespect that teams other than the Blackhawks share as well.

Players have made comments as well. Andrew Shaw has Tweeted “no stepping on the logo” and posting  the picture of Bieber. Brandon Bollig Tweeted “After this stunt I’m not sure who’s disliked more in Chicago. Bieber or [Raffi] Torres?”

That’s a good question.

German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “By seeking and blundering, we learn.” The world seeked Bieber’s blunder. Now it’s time to learn from it.

No Touching
George Bluth Sr., played by actor Jeffrey Tambor for the hit television show Arrested Development, shouts that in prison, there is no touching.
(Fox Network)

Hopefully the message has been sent that team logos are more than just decoration in a locker room. The images themselves represent the players inside the jerseys, coaches behind the playbooks, administrators in the offices and fans around the globe. All logos, for all sports represent much more than just team mascots, and need to be treated as such by everyone regardless of fame.

That’s the general lesson that all sports fans can learn. Blackhawks fans can learn something more specific. The line between ‘bandwagon fans’ and ‘true fans’ is starting grow darker. All fans are fans. Fans make the Championship Parades fun and the excitement in the city growing. All fans are welcome. It’s not as if ‘true fans’ get better seats in the Madhouse on Madison than the ‘bandwagon fans.’

But there is still an underlying hostility and Bieber’s photos have added fuel to the fire. Hopefully Blackhawks fans can ignore the ‘bandwagon’ and ‘true’ labels and just enjoy sharing the sweet taste of victory with all fans. Even fans from other teams have expressed congratulations to Chicago, an obvious showing of respect.

The Dali Lama said, “Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.” Blackhawks fans have the right to be a little miffed about Bieber’s pictures, but they need to embrace one another as fans of both the team and the game no matter how long they’ve been cheering.

For now, the cheering in Chicago is pretty loud from all fans.

So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.



David Schauer is an award-winning, professional writer who has been involved in organized hockey for over twenty years. He has been published hundreds of times; about the same number of times he has been checked into the boards.

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