The National Hockey League (NHL) has recently banned players from wrapping their hockey sticks with rainbow-colored Pride Tape during warm-ups, games, and practices. Here’s the full story.
This decision comes as part of a broader rollback of LGBTQ+ support within the league.
The ban on Pride Tape starkly contradicts the NHL’s own LGBTQ+-inclusive “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign, which aims to create an environment of acceptance and belonging for all players, regardless of their sexual orientation.
This campaign, which was once heralded for its strides towards inclusivity, now faces scrutiny as it takes a step back from its original commitment.
The NHL’s recent memo issued to all teams attempts to provide a “clarification” regarding its June decision to ban players from wearing Pride-themed warm-up jerseys during LGBTQ+-inclusive Pride nights.
No Personal Support for Any Special Initiatives
The memo read, “Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives.
A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).”
Pride Tape, a grassroots hockey initiative that emerged seven years ago, expressed extreme disappointment in the NHL’s decision.
Releasing a statement, it said, “Despite this setback, we are encouraged for what lies ahead based on our recent conversations from every corner of the sport.”
Similarly, You Can Play, the NHL’s main partner for LGBTQ+ outreach, expressed concern over the league’s retreat from its previous commitments in a tweet.
Community Is in Jeopardy
The Twitter post read, “If Hockey is for Everyone, this is not the way forward.
It is now clear that the NHL is stepping back from its long-standing commitment to inclusion and continuing to unravel all of its one-time industry-leading work on 2SLGBTQ+ membership.
We are now at a point where all of the progress made and relationships established with our community are in jeopardy.”
NHL Commissioner’s View
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended the action and said, “It’s become a distraction. And taking away from the fact that all of our clubs host nights in honor of various groups or causes, we’d rather they continue to get the appropriate attention they deserve and not be a distraction.”
NHL Will Host Pride Nights
However, Bettman shared that the NHL teams will continue to organize Pride nights, but players will not be allowed to wear rainbow-colored jerseys on such occasions.
“If It Isn’t for You Just Shut Up”
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “Idk, maybe it’s me but banning any theme night is just childish. Pride, military, cancer, St Patty’s… If it isn’t for you just shut up. It really didn’t have to be any sort of issue”
Another user added, “It isn’t disrespectful to LGBT folks. Think of it as inclusion. Rather than a virtue signal by putting up a flag, it’s about Hockey.
Not sexuality, gender identity, or national origin. Or any other immutable personal characteristic.”
Do They Have Straight People Tape?
A third user commented, “Do they have straight people tape, too? Why pander to the 3%?
Especially when 2.9% of that 3% don’t even want to be singled out but just want to live their lives, free of drama, like every other sane American.”
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The post NHL Says No to Rainbow Pride, Citing ‘LGBTQ+ Inclusivity as a Distraction’ from Hockey first appeared on Mama Say What?!
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jai Agnish. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.