NHL Teams with Gay and Lesbian Advocacy Group
The National Hockey League has never been the most progressive professional sports league. One of the oldest professional sporting organizations has been reluctant to change but when they do, they do it with both feet. The league that started with just six professional franchises has grown into a 30 team league with franchises in such warm weather cities as Tampa Bay and Dallas.
The nationwide viewership in hockey pales in comparison to the bigger and more profitable NBA and NFL but they have taken a stance on a controversial subject that will hopefully lead the way for the other sports. The NHL and its player’s organization established a partnership with the You Can Play project – a group that advocates inclusion for gay and lesbian athletes in all sports. The league announced the agreement on April 11th to little fanfare and the downplay of the impact speaks to the league’s acceptance of all athletes.
League commissioner, Gary Betteman, and the executive director of the NHL Player Union, Don Fehr, echoed the sentiment of the You Can Play founders but saying that their partnership was very simply “the right thing to do.”
The partnership was groundbreaking in a way and gay and lesbian advocates are hoping that this will lead the way for the other major sports organizations to follow suit.
The NFL seems to be headed in the wrong direction. Eyebrows were raised at some of the questions that NFL representatives were asking prospective draft picks at the NFL combine earlier this year. To their credit, the football league is meeting with several advocacy groups about reviewing the policies of what questions should or should not be asked in such an interview setting.
NHL, players join with You Can Play to fight homophobia in hockey