This season, several NHL players have opted to remain silent in protest against the league’s LGBTQ+ Pride Night celebrations. Players like Ivan Provorov, James Reimer, Marc Staal, Eric Staal, and Ilya Lyubushkin have refused to wear the Pride Night-themed warmup jerseys, which aim to promote inclusivity and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
While players have the right to individually support or oppose the issue, these protests impact the league’s message of inclusiveness. When players opt-out, attention shifts from inclusivity and support for sexual orientation and gender identity to discrimination and intolerance, particularly towards the transgender community. As a result, the NHL is reportedly considering discontinuing these celebrations.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, a well-respected hockey executive of long experience, weighed in publicly on the matter:
“This is the first time we’ve experienced that, and I think it’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate in the offseason,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told CTV News on Monday in Ottawa.
“This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement,” he said.
“But I think that’s become more of a distraction now because the substance of what our teams and we have been doing and stand for is really being pushed to the side for what is a handful of players basically have made personal decisions, and you have to respect that as well.”
Yes, he minimized it to “a handful of players,” but that’s to be expected. As it happens, the whole of the New York Rangers team refused to wear the “rainbow” jerseys. So the “dissent” on the “issue” isn’t confined to a few scattered individuals.
There’s a lot of suppressed embarrassment over the matter. The decision to impose these “Pride Nights” on the league came from the top, which means that Bettman had to have endorsed it at the very least. No doubt other hockey executives are wearing some facial egg over it as well.
What isn’t being suppressed is the surge of approbation for that “handful of players.” Go to YouTube and search for “Gary Bettman” plus “Pride night” and you’ll see for yourself.
My take on it? You really need to ask? Oh, all right:
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18-19
A more recent voice on the matter speaks from the only perspective that matters in the end: that of the free individual:
I will not mouth your slogans. I will not denounce on command. I am not your tool, and you are not my minder. I reject your social hectoring. I find abhorrent your authoritarian urges. I laugh at your disingenuous outrage. From me you will receive no apologies. I reject your premises entirely, and I hereby reclaim my time. — Jeff Goldstein
And that is as it must be.