24 days ago, I wrote this post about what white fans and members of the media could do to demand more from the NHL and its players on the subject of Black Lives Matter.
Today, we’re asking the same questions.
After yesterday’s historic events in the NBA and later the MLB, hockey fans wondered how the NHL would respond. The answer was: they wouldn’t. Not in any meaningful way.
Before I go any further, I urge you to read this open letter to the NHL by Matthew Henriques. And then read this great post from Omar over at Pension Plan Puppets.
As white fans, we aren’t the conveners here. We aren’t the leaders, or the ones starting the conversation. But we are the ones who have to carry it. Who have to shoulder the burden, and do the heavy lifting. Yes, still. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Our privilege necessitates it.
In my post a few weeks ago I encouraged fans to put pressure on the media to ask the important questions of white hockey players and coaches. We did, and it worked. The media are asking. But the answers are disappointing.
Here's @DallasStars forward Jason Dickinson, who took a knee during the anthems in the round-robin, on the NHL players' decision not to join NBA and MLB in protests tonight. Speaking from the heart. pic.twitter.com/VpKcheHFDb
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 27, 2020
— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) August 27, 2020
Vigneault was asked if he had any thoughts on the decisions of multiple leagues to sit out last night, and if we should expect any kind of response from the Flyers for today's game. His response (for clarity's sake, he was asked a similar question last night and deferred): pic.twitter.com/BYTQX5iGwH
— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) August 27, 2020
It’s not enough. It hasn’t been enough, not for a while. And in this truly historic, pivotal moment where social justice and sports are intersecting and overlapping, where people around the world are standing up for racial justice and equality, are denouncing police brutality and calling for robust reform, hockey can’t be behind the times. The NHL can’t be let off the hook.
Sports and politics have always gone together, despite what some claim. From the singing of anthems, to countries boycotting Olympic games, to Muhammad Ali refusing the draft and denouncing his title, and of course, to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee 4 years ago, sports and politics are intertwined. In today’s climate, everything and politics are intertwined.
And if for some reason that argument doesn’t resonate, then I ask: Is racism political? Is one side anti-racism and the other FOR it?
I don’t have the answer as to what a meaningful response is. I’m not sure we’ll know it until (if) we see it. I do know that as of writing this, the Hockey Diversity Alliance called on the NHL to postpone today’s games.
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) August 27, 2020
And the NHLPA and players are “in discussion”:
Hearing the NHLPA and players will have discussions this afternoon about how to proceed in regards to boycotts or sitting out.
— Joe McDonald (@JoeyMacHockey) August 27, 2020
Pressure from fans works. It might not always work fast, or result in the exact response we hope for, but it does make an impact.
I urge you to find the contact information for your favourite team, for the league, you can even tweet at the white players you love. Ask them for meaningful action to go with their words. Ask them to clearly define what all the ways to use their platform looks like.
The moment is now. It’s here, and it’s passing us by. History will remember – and those of us who love hockey want to make sure we’re on the right side of it.