The National Hockey League (NHL), the highest-level professional ice hockey league representing 32 North American teams, has banned individual players from wrapping their hockey sticks with rainbow-colored Pride Tape during warm-ups, games, and practices.

The new prohibition is just the latest development in the NHL’s rollback of its LGBTQ+ support amid a wave of anti-queer blowback to companies that support queer Pride. The prohibition flies in the face of the league’s LGBTQ±inclusive Hockey is for Everyone campaign.

Last Thursday, the NHL issued a memo to all teams with “clarification” on its June decision to ban players from wearing Pride-themed warm-up jerseys during the teams’ LGBTQ±inclusive Pride nights. The ban also prevents players from wearing jerseys commemorating military veterans, people with cancer, and others.

The new memo said, in part, “Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives. A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).”

The broadly written “clarification” could technically mean that players could refuse to be on the ice if there is a drag queen, a gay men’s chorus singing the National Anthem, or even out gay players present, the LGBTQ+ sports website Outsports noted.

The aforementioned website also confirmed that the NHL has banned individual players from applying Pride Tape onto their hockey sticks. Proceeds from the sale of the rainbow-colored tape have gone towards LGBTQ+ youth outreach and educational initiatives, Pride Tape’s website states.

Queerty noted that the Thursday memo specified that “specialty jerseys may be sold as merchandise, they just can’t be on the ice,” meaning that “the NHL is still happy to take LGBTQ+ fans’ money. But won’t stand up for them in the face of a few homophobes.”

Last June, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman talked to Sportsnet about the rainbow-colored jerseys and how some players have refused to wear them.

“It’s become a distraction,” Bettman said. “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.”

Bettman’s “distraction” comment may reference instances like what happened last January when Philadelphia Flyers’ player Ivan Provorov refused to take part in his team’s Pride Night warm-up session because he didn’t want to wear a rainbow-colored jersey. He said the jersey violated his Russian Orthodox Christian beliefs.

Bettman noted that NHL teams will still host Pride nights; players just won’t wear rainbow-colored jerseys during those nights. In a statement against the jersey ban, You Can Play, an organization opposing queerphobia in sports, said that they were “concerned and disappointed” by the new policy.

“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,” the organization said.

This past Pride season, queerphobic conservative activists orchestrated boycotts of Target and Bud Light for including the LGBTQ+ community in their marketing. These activists admitted that their goal is to make Pride “toxic” to brands. If the NHL is any indication, that campaign is working.

Outsports added, ” The NHL was one of only two major pro sports leagues in North America to never change their X avatar to a rainbow during 2023’s Pride Month (the other was the NFL).”

  • finthechat@kbin.social
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    9 months ago

    Common Bettman L.

    Dude really just said fuck it, I am gonna die of old age in 10 years anyway, fuck the future.

    Now the NHL has banned pro-LGBTQ messaging, there are animated digital board ads during play, ads on helmets, ads on jerseys, gambling commercials, commentators talking about betting odds, embedded commercials during play, and still no reasonable means of legally streaming NHL games. All under Bettman’s watch.

    Gary needs to go.

    • lagomorphlecture@lemm.ee
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      9 months ago

      Wow, I haven’t watched NHL in years (because, as you said, I can’t). I had no idea it had gotten that bad.

        • MelodiousFunk@kbin.social
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          9 months ago

          The sport isn’t dying, just the (appearance of) its soul. I watched the NFL do the same kinds of things until I couldn’t take any more. It sucks.

          • ryathal@sh.itjust.works
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            9 months ago

            The NHL is losing to soccer for 4th most popular sport, where it was competitive with basketball 30 years ago. The game is dying outside Canada.

            • WhipTheLlama@lemmy.world
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              9 months ago

              it was competitive with basketball 30 years ago

              Bettman supporters keep saying how much the revenue has grown under his leadership while conveniently forgetting that every other league has grown its revenue faster than the NHL. As you say, the NHL used to be competitive with the NBA, and in fact, had higher overall revenue 30 years ago.

              Bettman hid most of his underperforming league revenue by expanding the league. The new teams didn’t perform well, but they boosted overall revenue enough to let Bettman keep his job. Now we’re left with a league where 6-8 teams should die in order to improve overall league health. It’s unlikely that Bettman or any future commissioner will admit how massive the problem is, so we’ll just get teams that are always threatening to become bankrupt, dragging down the rest of the league.

              • ZeroCool@feddit.chOP
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                9 months ago

                so we’ll just get teams that are always threatening to become bankrupt, dragging down the rest of the league.

                At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if by the 2024-2025 season Arizona’s gonna be splitting rink time with beer leaguers.

    • conditional_soup@lemm.ee
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      9 months ago

      Oh so HE’S why I can’t watch the only professional sport I actually like. Fuck that guy. All my homies hate that guy.

      • ryathal@sh.itjust.works
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        9 months ago

        If you happen to be an out of market fan, espn+ gives you most the games. In market you’re pretty screwed, especially if your team gets a lot of national broadcasts.

  • Zahille7@lemmy.world
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    9 months ago

    But like, why does it fucking matter? If I were a player, I’d still rock the pride jersey and tape in the face of the ban. “oH yOu NeEd To RePrEsEnT tHe CoMpAnY!”

    Fuck you and your hateful bullshit. I’ll show my support even though you won’t.

    • MacGuffin94@lemmy.world
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      9 months ago

      Really there is only like 10 players that need to say fuck it and not follow this to force Bettmans hand. If Crosby, McDavid, Matthews, or a handful of other players of their popularity and caliber use the tape during warm-ups or singing like that it really puts pressure on the NHL to fold.

  • sndmn@lemmy.ca
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    9 months ago

    Sexual assault is rampant but what really matters is clamping down on inclusivity!

  • 🇰 🔵 🇱 🇦 🇳 🇦 🇰 ℹ️@yiffit.net
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    9 months ago

    Whoever made this decision needs their teeth knocked out. If they’re already knocked out, they need to be given implants just so they can be knocked out again.

    They’re perfectly fine with selling you rainbow merch, but having some rainbow tape on a player’s stick is “distracting?” To whom? Fucking dickheads.

  • orbitz@lemmy.ca
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    9 months ago

    I’m a Canadian who doesn’t pay much attention to hockey (yeah I know), but fuck this decision. Everyone should be for inclusive rights to all members of society who respect others. No ands ifs or buts. Fuck people who don’t agree, it’s not in your face it’s just people wanting to be treated as equals you fuckers. I’d say heaven forbid we welcome different people but that’s already in the bible, not that these people read it.

    • shalafi@lemmy.world
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      9 months ago

      it’s not in your face

      That is exactly what conservatives argue.

      “I’m fine with those people, but why do you have to shove it in my face?!”

      They truly believe that any gay symbolism is pushy. They’re coming from a time and place where gays were stuffed in the closet. Might be hard for young people to understand, but being gay was kept on the down low. Hell, “fag bashing” was a popular sport in the 80’s. Don’t want your ass beat? Fine. Keep that shit hidden and we’re cool.

      Had a high school buddy of mine about piss himself when I saw him in a straight/gay bar. “Please don’t tell anybody!” “Don’t give a shit. Let me hit whatever that is you got going.”

      Same bar, I was watching my gf dance and a guy pulled up, offered me a drink. “That’d be cool, but just so you know, I’m not gay.” He knocked his barstool over running backwards. “Hey man! I’m sorry! It’s cool!” “I’m cool. Can I still get that drink?” LOL, if you think gays have it bad now, you ain’t seen shit.

      Even “openly” gay stars like Liberace and Elton John were just “light in the loafers”. No one called them gay. That was an insult beyond the pale.

      And y’all can rage and shit yourselves in the comments for all I care, call me some sort of vile apologist, don’t give a fuck. I’m just outlining how it was then vs. how it is now.

      Some people’s brains are literally incapable of adjusting to change. And some people don’t think the changes are happening fast enough. And here we are.

      • Honytawk@lemmy.zip
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        9 months ago

        being gay was kept on the down low

        Not just on the down low, you could get beaten or even jailed for coming out as gay before.

        It was literally illegal to be interested in men when you were a man.

      • WhipTheLlama@lemmy.world
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        9 months ago

        They truly believe that any gay symbolism is pushy.

        It is in your face, especially during pride month. But that’s the point. It’s in your face so we can talk about how gay people are treated, what they’ve overcome, and show that they are being included in places they previously weren’t. You can’t do that if it’s not in your face.

        So, they’ve got a point when they claim that gay symbolism is pushy. I’d ask them why they think it’s useful to be pushy.

  • Destide@feddit.uk
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    9 months ago

    the laaand of the free except you and you and you, maybe you…actually no

  • Jaysyn@kbin.social
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    9 months ago

    Unfortunately, I can’t boycott that garbage any more than I already do.

  • Grant_M@lemmy.ca
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    9 months ago

    Clear out the bigots and kremlin shills and fire Bettman immediately.

  • FoolishObserver@lemmy.world
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    9 months ago

    So, could a specific line each pick 2-3 colors- individually, not a rainbow- to create a rainbow? Or a goalie with different colors on indiviual pads?

  • Honytawk@lemmy.zip
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    9 months ago

    I’d colour my hair in rainbow and take off the helmet after each match

  • lennybird@lemmy.world
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    9 months ago

    The new memo said, in part, “Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives. A factor that may be considered in this regard includes, for example, whether a Player (or Players) is required to be in close proximity to any groups or individuals visibly or otherwise clearly associated with such Special Initiative(s).”

    Wait so their excuse is to protect the bigots who don’t want to participate, so their solution is to ban it all…? What?