A question about “colored tape” got Colorado Avalanche center Colin Wilson in some unexpected hot water earlier on Twitter today. In response, Wilson called Outsports to clarify that he completely supports both the concept of Pride Tape and the NHL’s partnership with the You Can Play Project.
Wilson appeared on an Instagram Live interview Tuesday with TSN BarDown’s Jesse Pollock. When the conversation turned to the options available to hockey players to personalize their equipment, Wilson was asked “What about colored tape?” He responded:
“Colored tape? I don’t know...[it’s] not for the NHL but it’s pretty fun to experiment. I mean, I get excited for the Everyone Can Play Night where you can do the rainbow in warm-ups. I always want to keep it for the game. I think it’s pretty dope style.”
Pollock followed up and asked “So why don’t you?” Wilson replied, “I just don’t have it in me. Just cannot get chirped by my own teammates and the other team and still try to play a game.”
in case anyone wanted to see/hear the clip for themselves. pic.twitter.com/YJTNVWFe1d— abby (@dunbaerrito) May 13, 2020
It sounded as though Wilson was revealing that using Pride Tape during a game was unacceptable to his teammates and opponents. The clip was shared on Twitter and fans were quick to lash out.
After the backlash spread, Wilson accepted an invitation to call Outsports to explain and clarify his remarks, which he said were “misinterpreted.” In that conversation, he emphasized that his trepidation regarding peer response was founded entirely in the question about “colored tape” and not in any way having to do with homophobia:
“We were originally talking about whether or not I would ever use light colored tape during the game. So when I responded, I was again thinking about using any colored tape because that would be sticking out as an individual during a team game.”
In other words, the phrase “colored tape” originally drew Wilson’s focus to the prospect of using any tape that would stand out from the pack. Rainbow tape was an example he used but the discussion centered around every type of colored tape. He did not in any way mean to single out Pride Tape for exclusion.
Because hockey culture centers around sacrificing individuality in favor of team goals, Wilson’s fears of getting “chirped” were about violating those unwritten rules rather than homophobia.
As he further explained, “When the puck drops, you kind of have to respect that you’re an individual coming into a team game where it’s something greater than yourself and you want to kind of mesh into the team with it.”
To be abundantly clear, Wilson also told us, “I don’t think anybody would take exception to me using Pride Tape during a game.” Later on in the conversation, he further asserted:
“If you look at the statistics, it seems as though there would have been a gay player or there is a gay player. I think that there’s just [going to be] a lot of pressure on that first person coming out [in the NHL], not knowing how anybody has reacted in the past.
“And I think people tend to think it’s going to be a bigger deal than it is. I really feel like the whole hockey world is really inclusive. All the players are very happy and it’s just a great group of guys.”
As a league, the NHL has made great strides in its acceptance of the LGBTQ community. And despite what Twitter says, Colin Wilson wants to make it clear that he’s an eager participant in the sport’s effort to spread the message that hockey is for everyone.