Congratulations homophobes, Bettman and the NHL just gave you the biggest win you’ve had in sports in many years.
The league’s action comes after about a dozen NHL players this past season refused to wear team-requested warmup jerseys that featured the team logo in a Pride rainbow.
Some teams sat their non-complying player for the warmups, while other teams disallowed anyone on the team from wearing them due to a small minority of players.
Either way, the refusals often overshadowed the intended inclusive meaning of the gesture.
“It’s become a distraction,” Bettman said. And he’s not wrong. “And taking away from the fact that all of our clubs host nights in honor of various groups or causes, and we’d rather they continue to get the appropriate attention they deserve and not be a distraction.”
As I said when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about disuading clubs from wearing Pride uniforms during games, it’s best for league offices to raise the bar of review for these efforts, making sure it will end well and there is full buy-in.
There is absolutely reason to raise the questions and make sure the team effort doesn’t take away from overall messages.
Full bans? No.
You Can Play, which has been instrumental in building LGBTQ inclusion in the NHL, said they disagree with this move:
“We are concerned and disappointed by this decision. Today’s decision means that the over 95% of players who chose to wear a Pride jersey to support the community will now not get an opportunity to do so. Pride nights will continue and we look forward to further enhancing the programming these opportunities bring to the mission of inclusion and belonging for the 2SLGBTQ+ community given this restriction.”
MLB still allows — and doesn’t get involved with — players wearing warmup T-shirts to support the LGBTQ community during Pride Night.
The NHL’s new edict bans even that.
Of all the major men’s pro leagues in the United States, the NHL continues to put the league in reverse on LGBTQ inclusion. It’s sad to see, but that’s the reality.