As “Pride” Month draws to a close, the National Hockey League is considering next year. In doing so, they’ve decided to make at least one major change.
As NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Tuesday, next year’s pride month celebrations, including any and all pride nights, will not include special pride jerseys for the players to wear.
According to Bettman, the jerseys have become more of a distraction than anything else, and it’s doing neither the NHL nor the pride community any real good.
As you know, this past season saw more than a few teams decide to don rather flamboyant and colorful jerseys to supposedly support LGBTQ+ pride. But as you can imagine, it’s not something all players or teams feel comfortable wearing.
It’s also not something most fans want to see from the stands or on television. If you didn’t already know, hockey fascinates the nation’s most conservative fanbase. So I’m sure you can imagine pride jerseys are not over all that well.
As a result, the past few months and weeks have turned into a near-constant discussion about pride causes and the LGBT community than hockey itself. Games and especially pride night specialty events indeed became “distractions” to fans, players, and team owners.
And as Bettman told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, that’s a problem he can’t afford.
“It’s taking away from the fact that all of our clubs, in some form or another, host nights in honor of various groups or causes, and we’d rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction.”
To be clear, pride nights themselves aren’t going anywhere. Come next season, they will still exist in all their ridiculousness. However, the jerseys we saw this year will not.
“This way, we’re keeping the focus on the game, and on these specialty nights, we’re going to be focused on the cause.”
Good call, Bettman. He may have just saved the entire league.