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NHL bans use of LGBTQ Pride Tape on the ice

Cool Ray, the mascot of the South Carolina Stingrays, shows off his patriotism March 12 at the military appreciation night held at the North Charleston Coliseum. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles)
October 13, 2023

The National Hockey League (NHL) recently announced additional changes to its theme night initiatives, banning the use of pride-themed stick tape on the ice.

According to Fox News, the decision restricts teams from wearing specialty jerseys on themed nights and further prohibits the use of rainbow-colored stick tape on the ice. The NHL’s decision to ban pride-themed jerseys and stick tape has ignited controversy.

According to a recent confirmation by Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly to The Associated Press, the league set out an updated memo to its 32 teams last week. The memo outlined the guidelines players will be required to follow for themed nights.

The memo explicitly banned the use of “Pride Tape” for sticks and reiterated the ban on special theme night jerseys, encompassing occasions like “Pride,” “Hockey Fights Cancer,” and military appreciation celebrations.

An ESPN report first brought attention to the new memo. An unnamed league source revealed that the NHL memo emphasized the idea that “players should be encouraged to express themselves off the ice.”

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Reacting to the NHL changes, Pride Tape, the company behind the colorful athletic tape, released a statement on social media Tuesday.

“The Pride Tape team is extremely disappointed by the NHL’s decision to eliminate Pride Tape from any league on-ice activities. The league has used language in recent days which would prohibit the tape from any proximity to NHL Hockey,” the company said. “We hope the league — and teams — will again show commitment to this important symbol of combating homophobia. Many of the players themselves have been exceptional advocates for the tape.”

Additionally, the You Can Play Project, an organization that promotes LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports and has partnered with the NHL for about ten years, tweeted a statement in response to the league’s decision. The organization criticized the league’s new stance, lamenting what it described as the NHL “stepping back” from promoting inclusivity.

“We are now at a point where all the progress made, and relationships established with our community, is in jeopardy,” You Can Play Project stated. “Making decisions to eradicate our visibility in hockey — by eliminating symbols like jerseys and now Pride Tape — immediately stunts the impact of bringing in more diverse fans and players into the sport.”

In June, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet, that the league had decided to no longer allow themed jerseys to be worn on the ice in an effort to remain focused on the game of hockey.

“That’s just become more of a distraction from really the essence of what the purpose of these nights are,” Bettman stated. “We’re keeping the focus on the game. And on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.