As the new NHL season began recently, the league announced a crackdown on explicit endorsements of LGBT causes by players while on the ice.
This included a prohibition of so-called “pride tape,” which is a rainbow-colored adhesive used by some players on their sticks. The move attracted support from many fans who want to watch games without the injection of a cultural agenda, but a number of social activist groups unsurprisingly spoke out against the decision.
In the end, the NHL’s critics succeeded in pressuring the league to reverse its earlier decision.
NHL statement on symbolic tape in support of social causes. pic.twitter.com/BJN0hAde2W
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 24, 2023
A statement released recently advised: “After consultation with the NHL Player’s Association and the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition, Players will now have the opportunity to voluntarily represent social causes with their stick tape throughout the season.”
The decision came after former NHL Executive Vice President Brian Burke spoke out against the ban on pride tape, claiming that the divisive symbol should be seen as a “powerful community outreach tool” instead of the distraction it had become for players and fans alike.
He went on to denounce “a select few” who oppose social activism during games and “do not want to answer any questions about their choices,” declaring that he hopes “the NHL reconsiders in order to remain a leader in [diversity, equity, and inclusion].”
DEI has become a loaded acronym across the corporate world as major companies attempt to placate vocal minorities by promoting controversial messages and values.
Over the past year, such decisions by Target and Bud Light, among others, have led to widespread boycotts by individuals who do not support the LGBT agenda.
Nevertheless, Burke’s take on the NHL’s policy appears to have eclipsed that of Commissioner Gary Bettman, who called for a policy that respected all views.
“You know what our goals, our values, and our intentions are across the league, whether it’s at the league level or at the club level,” he said earlier this year. “But we also have to respect some individual choice, and some people are more comfortable embracing themselves in causes than others. And part of being diverse and welcoming is understanding those differences.”
Shortly after the NHL’s reversal was announced, Arizona Coyotes defensive player Travis Dermott unveiled a stick decorated with pride tape in Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.