The NHL, Pride Nights, and Sports as Catalyst for Social Change
Across the American sporting landscape, Pride Nights have become a popular way to reach out to the LGBTQIA+ community, a simple show of support meant to signify that sports are for everyone. In the NHL, teams have worn themed warm up jerseys that were later auctioned off for charity. But last year, Pride Nights became the epicenter of a public relations disaster for the league.
A small handful of players publicly refused to participate in their team’s respective Pride Night, citing their religion or fear of retribution in their home countries, and some teams opted out of wearing the warmups entirely.
Backlash and debate ensued, and the NHL banned all specialty jerseys ahead of this season. They also banned the use of Pride Tape, a rainbow-patterned wrap that players would use on their sticks. But rather than make the issue go away like the league had hoped, it blew up in their faces and created even more of a PR firestorm.
The ban was eventually rescinded, but the initial decision itself was a damning tell of the state of LGBTQIA+ support, or lack thereof, in society at large.
So today, Emily Kaplan joins us for a candid discussion about what happened in hockey, how we can learn from it…and who’s really affected when we talk about this subject.
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