The National Hockey League is making a huge decision for the 2024 season and beyond and this might be the thing that gets other sporting leagues to follow suit.
The NHL and several of its teams and players caught both flak and praise in response to not wearing LGBTQ-themed jerseys during warm-ups on their respective Pride Nights.
In order get past the issues, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says themed jerseys will no longer be worn on the ice.
“I suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change their jerseys in warm-ups because it’s become a distraction and taking away from the fact that all of our clubs in some form or another host nights in honor of various groups or causes, and we’d rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction,” Bettman told SportsNet at the NHL Board of Governors meeting on Thursday.
The announcement came in the midst of Pride Month while the league has been criticized for not making the LGBTQ community welcome at its games, which Bettman called “legitimate concerns.”
“But in the final analysis, all of the efforts and emphasis on the importance of these various courses have been undermined by the distraction in terms of which teams, which players, this way we’re keeping the focus on the game and on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause,” he said.
The decision won’t just affect pride night, but also other notable events, including Military Appreciation, Hockey Fights Cancer, and St. Patrick’s Day.
Those proceedings along with Pride Night, however, will continue at each respective arena despite the axing of the pregame sweaters.
All 32 teams hosted a “Pride” or “Hockey is for Everyone” night during the 2022-23 season, and are expected to do so again next year.
Announcements like this could very well trickle down to the NHL, NBA, NFL, and other sporting leagues.
We shall see.
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