Kyle Rich, associate professor of leisure and leisure studies, wrote an article recently published in the Hamilton Spectator about the role communities can play in making sport in Canada more equitable and accessible.
“Pride nights were never the answer.
It was recently reported that the NHL would ban players from using Pride Tape this season. This comes after the league ended all themed warm-up jerseys last June after a small number of players – including Canadians James Reimer and Eric and Marc Staal – spoke out about the Pride jerseys, saying that they were going “against their beliefs” and that the league determined the jerseys were a “distraction.”
Reports suggest that an NHL memo stated that players should not be placed in the position of having or appearing to support, or being close to those demonstrating personal support, for “special initiatives.” Some appreciated the recent decision regarding hockey’s version of a “don’t say gay” policy and suggested it could cancel all teams’ Pride Night activities.
The policy change comes a year after the NHL released a report on “accelerating diversity and inclusion” and amid the ongoing “hockey is for everyone” campaign. The irony of these mixed messages is not lost on most followers. But I think all the buzz generated by the news and social media distracts from the key problem at the center of these developments: professional sports leagues are not the changemakers who will solve the problem.
Even though professional teams are, and should be, part of the conversation, Pride Nights would never have been THE solution to combat homophobia and transphobia in sport.
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