The National Hockey League finds fight itself on thin. Ice with some conservatives as a new target in the US culture war.
In the run-up to its All-Star Game in Florida on Saturday. The league has tried to put its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion front and center. But the moves drew sharp criticism from powerful conservatives. fight Including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading contender for the 2024 GOP. Presidential nomination, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The most-watched primetime cable news host, and sparked controversy. Ice.
There is little sign that these tensions will abate soon.
Amid calls for change both inside and outside the game. The NHL and its teams have sought to address past incidents of racism. And abuse, diversify its workforce. And create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ fans and athletes. In doing so, the league has promoted semi-regular “pride” nights at games. Conducted a top-down diversity and inclusion assessment. And appealed to racial and ethnic groups that have not made up a significant part of the league. work force
At the same time, leading conservatives argue. That some of these initiatives are discriminatory. Against white men — who still make up the vast majority of party. And league employees — or impede religious freedom. DeSantis, ahead of his potential presidential bid, has picked fights with large corporations. And entities like Disney, the college board and the NHL. On social issues while they operate in his state, which he says is “dying to wake up.”
Shawn Anderson, an assistant professor at Loyola Marymount University.
Who focuses on the intersection of sports and social justice initiatives. Says the NHL’s recent efforts to change hockey culture are laughable. Over the years, it has lagged behind contemporary leagues such as the NFL.
And NBA in addressing social, cultural and political issues.
“I kind of laughed, because [the idea] woke up the NHL,” he said, “I thought, ‘Well, they must have woken up yesterday.'”
It was in Florida where one of the most prominent face-offs took place. Weeks ago, the league fight published a post on LinkedIn about its “Pathway to Hockey Summit. An informational career event. That the NHL finally hosted Thursday to kick off its All-Star weekend festivities. The forum was described as “those who have not been exposed to hockey.” To learn more about opportunities within the sport.
It included a note that read: “Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Located in the United States, and identify as female, Black. Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino. Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and/or a person with a disability. Veterans are also welcome and encouraged to attend.”
The league later said the phrase was a mistake and replaced the post. But not before DeSantis’ office condemned it in a statement. And called for the removal of the “discriminatory ban” on attendance.
“Discrimination of any kind is not welcome in the state of Florida.
fight And we do not subscribe to the notion that discrimination should be ignored. When applied in popular ways or against unpopular populations.” Spokesman Brian Griffin said in a statement. .
After the change, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told The Athletic. That he “didn’t want to go into all that” and “didn’t want to add to the controversy over it” but said the event was “mishandled.” DeSantis himself highlighted the episode, telling Fox News: “We’re not going. To indulge in this woke arrogance. That it’s okay to discriminate against certain people. If it’s correct to do so, and so we’ve made it very clear to the NHL that they’re in violation of our laws.
“They reversed course very ,” he said. “And our society is better when we are all treated and treated as individuals and not as members of groups.”
Florida state representative Randy Fine, a Republican, described the NHL’s description. Of the initiative as racist and said the league has folded on the issue. Because they don’t have a “pleasant position.”
“People engage in sports to get away from politics,” he said.
. “The idea of using these vehicles to jam people’s throats. It’s short-sighted, it’s a terrible business strategy.”
He added, but, that he found nothing wrong. With a private fight business seeking to diversify its workforce. But objected to the event’s formulation.
“If the thing had said, ‘Hey, we’re having a diversity event. And we’d love for people from this group to come. But everybody’s welcome, that would have gotten on the governor’s radar screen,'” he says. “But the event said that white people Attendance is prohibited. It should bother people.”
Florida State Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, responded. That the league’s “retreat” from the post in light of DeSantis.’ pushback was “dangerous” and, when considered. With DeSantis’ broad actions on social issues, “should be a national concern. Everyone.”
“Hockey is not a sport that is popular in the black community,” Jones said. “The NHL saw the need to reach out to help blacks and others appreciate the game, which is the right position. It is inclusive. It is ensuring that everyone can enjoy hockey. … It’s going to have long-term effects if companies. Start bowing to this authoritarian, fascist leadership that we’re seeing.”
Although the league changed its promotion of the event. The fight summit was scheduled for Thursday. And, as the Associated Press reported, focused on diversity efforts. Kim Davis, the NHL’s executive vice president of social impact. Growth and legal affairs, told the outlet that the league.
“Doesn’t ask tough questions as long as the valuation is fair.”
In October, the league released the results of an internal diversity. And inclusion assessment, which found that. About 84% of league employees are white and 93% identify as straight. Davis said the league plans to update the survey every two years.
The NHL did not respond to a request to speak to Davis for comment for this story.
Former NHL forward Brandon Bochensky, now the Republican mayor of Grand Forks. North Dakota, thought the same forces for social change. That pushed for progress in other sports would soon shape hockey.
“the NHL was the next goal,” he said. “It’s hard, because diversity is more than skin color and sex. a lot of people believe that.”
One reason the NHL has attracted a majority white audience. And talent pool is that the game has long. And sustained winters in countries — such as Canada. Russia and the Scandinavian countries — that are less diverse.
And in the United States, the sport’s high costs and fees for skates. Pads, sticks and other fight equipment have often made it a more exclusive sport. Confined to wealthy communities — a problem Bochensky said. The league should be at the forefront of solving.
But Bochensky says people’s backgrounds in sports. Are more varied than they first appear.
“hockey on the cover looks as diverse as it is,” he said. “If you go out there and you talk to guys, they’re different religions. Different families, different upbringings, how they treat people, there’s so much more. So it frustrates people when it’s skin deep. Focuses on color and sexuality because you have a pretty diverse group of people making up the NHL.”