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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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NHL continues to remain silent in its white supremacy

NHL+continues+to+remain+silent+in+its+white+supremacy

Of the four major men’s sports leagues in North America, the National Hockey League remains the whitest year after year. 

With factors such as extremely high costs and lack of support in non-white areas, that fact is not going to change if the NHL does not commit to diversifying the sport and giving support to those less represented demographics.

As a result of the race barrier that hockey has instilled, the sport has become a breeding ground for conservative and white supremacist ideologies. 

The sport of hockey itself survives on a team first mentality. The thoughts and beliefs of individual players are so infrequently expressed because they are told from a young age that their focus should be on what is best for the team, not themselves. 

That team first mentality is what leads the NHL to stay silent on most issues concerning race. They view themselves as a non-political entity and believe that they should not stand up for anything for fear of alienating their conservative fanbases.

This summer especially when the time to stand up against racism came, the NHL was late to the call, and their efforts to show support for Black players and fans constantly fell short. 

The Hockey Diversity Alliance, headed by former NHL player Akim Aliu and current San Jose Sharks player Evander Kane, was formed to promote the inclusion of Black players in the NHL and hockey at every level. Though the HDA started believing that they could work alongside the NHL to solve these issues, they have since announced they would be operating fully separate from the league that failed to meet even their simplest demands for change and only seemed to support these issues through performative PR statements.

While a small number of players have shown their support for movements like Black Lives Matter and called for more support for non-white hockey players, that number is greatly outweighed by the masses of current and former players who have spent the past four years vocally supporting the Trump presidency. 

With Trump now out of office there have been calls for forgiveness of hockey players like former Boston Bruin Bobby Orr or the 1980 Olympic Men’s Team for showing support of Trump. When current players who vocally support Trump are brought up, their support is always explained away by saying that they are good guys and great teammates. 

None of these current or former players are unable to accept the consequences that their actions have, nor should they be let off the hook for being so supportive of someone as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. as Trump. There is a constant need in the NHL to act as if these men cannot be held accountable for and face the consequences of their actions, and that is something that needs to stop.

After Donald Trump was banned from both Twitter and Instagram, New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo took to social media to announce that he would be leaving both platforms in favor of Parler, a social media popular with Trump supporters and right wing conspiracy theorists. Concerns were raised by hockey fans about DeAngelo’s switch to the app, and members of the media probed the team for answers, but the only thing that was said was that it was being handled internally.

This is not the first time that Tony DeAngleo has expressed problematic views, and it probably will not be the last. At the beginning of November, DeAngelo’s account was deactivated, supposedly at the behest of the New York Rangers, following a tweet asking what happened to Covid in the wake of the US Presidential Election and implying that the virus was just a hoax. 

Then, the media was told that it was being handled internally.

The question of how far this must go and how much worse DeAngelo must do for there to be actual repercussions for his repeated actions must be asked. How many more people must DeAngelo alienate from the sport before it is made clear that his behavior is not tolerated?

In the 2020 NHL Draft, the Arizona Coyotes drafted Michell Miller, 111th overall from the University of North Dakota. At that time the team knew that Miller had abused a Black disabled classmate in junior high, but later said that they had seen that it was something that he had moved past and that he was a different person. Miller had written letters of apology to all 31 NHL teams, but never once did he apologize to Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, the victim of his abuse.

Despite this, he was still granted a place in the NHL by the Arizona Coyotes. It was not until the team faced insurmountable backlash that they decided to cut ties with him and relinquish the pick. 

Racism has never been seen as a problem that needs to be addressed in the NHL. Less than 5% of the NHL’s current players, around 700 players total, are not white, even less than that Black.  

Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, when asked by the HDA what he and the league were going to do to address racism in hockey, only responded to ask what the members of the HDA had done to fight racism. This seemed to imply that this was not his problem.

As the end of the Trump administration has arrived, I hope that this is not the end of NHL players expressing their political beliefs. Sports are inherently political, and every player should be granted the agency to express their own beliefs separate from the team mentality.

Everybody on these teams exists as their own person outside of the sport. Fans should be given the chance to see that person. Fans, especially Black fans, should be given the choice to decide who they support based off of who these players are outside of the rink. 

White hockey players have always been coddled and treated like children, but they need to realize that it is time to stand up for their beliefs and be willing to face any and all backlash it brings. Hockey should not be seen as a safe space for white supremacists. This conversation is long overdue.

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  • R

    Ralph 2Apr 26, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    You cannot persecute people because they believe something different than you but thanks for your divisive ignorant short sighted discourse you wannabe communist

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  • R

    RalphApr 26, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    You’re retarded

    Reply