The NHL is Trending Dangerously Close to Being Burned By Wokeness

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(Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)


The one league that has been a sanctuary away from political activism is experimenting with virtue signaling.


While the infusion of socio-political activism in sports has become more normalized, this summer has seen a spike in those efforts. Following the George Floyd death and all of the protests that followed the professional sports leagues joined in the fray. MLB saw players uniformly kneeling for the anthem, with Black Lives Matter insignia painted on the fields. The NBA has followed suit, with courts adorned as well as players being permitted to change out their name on the jerseys for league-sanctioned activist phrases. The NFL has promised much of the same.

Meanwhile the NHL has been mostly free of these kinds of gestures. While the reopening of the season saw a few token pregame recognitions to the causes there has been otherwise very few political gestures made. That appears to be changing now.  

Following another police shooting in Wisconsin this led to a quick reaction in the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks announced they were suspending play until further notice due to the ensuing social upheaval. Other players in the league voiced support, and then the league announced that gameplay in general would be halted. That is when the NHL became involved. It was announced yesterday that in a sign of solidarity with the NBA, the hockey playoff would be halted for two nights.

The logic here is lacking. Start with the fact many of these players are undertaking their activist causes in a message of rebuke to President Trump and his policies. So as a result they shut down their games, giving more fans the freedom to watch President Trump accept the GOP nomination at the convention last night.


This decision by pro hockey is a tad ridiculous, beginning with the fact that the NHL is playing their Stanley Cup series in two Canadian cities. There is no connection to be made with the shooting, nor even with Wisconsin. But making this decision even more baffling is that the NBA ultimately went with the decision to play their games after all. In a fashion as logical as going on a food strike in support of someone who is in line ordering a Big Mac Value Meal, the NHL is suspending play in support of the league that is still playing.

In recent weeks, following outward pressure by groups, more activism is seeping into the hockey league. Some players have now taken to kneeling for the national anthem, which has been confounding, as this has also included doing so during the Canadian national anthem…for no discernible reason. Now there has risen up a specific racial activist hockey organization, and the intent is to clearly mold the league into a version of the other activist sports examples.

Called The Hockey Diversity Alliance it is a group formed by a group of POC hockey players with the goal of creating a more open and accepting environment for POC players and encouraging growth within their ranks. All great ideas. Except those are not their only desired efforts. The HDA is also strongly pushing for the very types of actions from the league that has seen fans being repelled from other sports as being too overt in their activism.


Rick Westhead is a Canadian journalist and he compiled a list of the many things the HDA has sent to the league requesting changes to be made in the name of racial justice. They want greater diversity in league executives, team staffing, and suppliers, by 2021. And the list unspools from there, with demands notably extending beyond the sport itself. They have requested owners provide their arenas as polling locations for the coming election, as one example.

They also want the league to support the Alliance directly through on-ice initiatives.


Then, to show just how little thought these players turned activists have put into their efforts, they have made one other proposal that is pure emotional symbolism defying logic. They propose for a period of time showing league support for the BLM movement by changing the markings on the ice. The HDA suggests changing the color of the blue lines to the color black. Seriously.

Linesman and video-review officials in the league will love this one, trying to call offsides properly with a black puck on a black line. 

This appears to be the way all sports need to go. Should this type of movement continue I might start pricing out black armbands for some of my jerseys — as a way of signifying when the sport met its self-actualized death.


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