With the world trying to be more tolerant and understanding of different groups of people, the NHL has jumped on board in efforts to make the sport of hockey more accepting of LGBTQ people. If their efforts, the NHL has launched the You Can Play campaign which emphasizes that if you have the skill and desire, it doesn’t matter who you love. Going a step further than just promoting their campaign the NHL has named the month of February the You Can Play month, even naming ambassadors for the campaign from each NHL team.
Even so, this type of campaign doesn’t come without some controversy. The biggest coming from the announcement that the Montreal Canadiens ambassador would be Andrew Shaw. This has become a topic of upset because of the statements and comments Shaw has made in the past, yelling derogatory and homophobic remarks at a referee during a game, which he got fined for. The whole reason for this campaign is to show people that they can feel comfortable and supported by their teammates and league if they come out. Coming out to someone who has made homophobic remarks in the past doesn’t scream safe to me. But I do understand why the league named Shaw the ambassador, they want to show that they are making a change, and making Shaw be more open minded and tolerant does that.
What I don’t understand is the unrest and upset following Sidney Crosby not using the “pride” rainbow stick tape during their game on Tuesday night. Everyone who watches hockey knows how important superstition and routine is to players, especially Crosby. Asking him to change his routine and switch up his tape for a game could be detrimental for him, with a lot of hockey being a game of the mind, screwing up a routine can cause a lot of mental anxiety and stress. Although he didn’t use the tape during the game, pictures show that he did use the tape on the top end of his stick during warm-ups, he may not have used it on the blade of the stick like everyone else, but he did use it. Crosby among many other players has been an avid supporter of the You Can Play campaign and promoting the gay community in hockey for years, one game without openly supporting it shouldn’t take away his stance as an ally.
Hockey among many other avenues and sports is a masculine game, a game that hasn’t had the greatest and most accepting past for people of the LBGTQ community, but they are actively trying to change that. It won’t be done over night, it will take some time, but they are trying and that should be respected and commended. They are doing something different than many other professional sports, and I think it will benefit the gay community immensely in the future, just give it some time to come to fruition.