It’s difficult these days to open up a form of social media and not see a majority of the content be related to the current state of racism in today’s society. Unfortunately, racism is something that persists in 2020, and in our great game of hockey. It’s no secret that hockey is a predominantly white sport. To my knowledge, the northern part of the United States and most of Canada is less diverse from a racial standpoint. When you add in the systemic racism that has deprived people of color of economic opportunity and the fact that hockey is an expensive sport, it makes sense. Unfortunately, that lack of diversity is likely to lead a completely untrue feeling that hockey is only for white people. Luckily, some NHL players who are people of color have decided to take a stance against this notion.
Before I go any further, I want the following statement to go first and stand alone. Black Lives Matter, and hockey is for everyone.
Current and former NHL players Akim Aliu, Trevor Daley, Wayne Simmonds, Joel Ward, Evander Kane, Matt Dumba, and Chris Stewart have come together to form the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA). While independent from the NHL, the letter from the players noted they hope to work with the league to help make a change in the hockey community, and society in general. The HDA will serve as an organization to educate people on the issues surrounding racism that still exist in the sport. They will also work to promote diversity in the sport by making the game more affordable and accessible, an issue that has plagued hockey for as long as we can all remember. They have partnered with sponsors to help with the charitable division of the HDA, which will launch in the coming weeks. All in all, the HDA wants to work to inspire a new generation of hockey players and fans, while also educating those already involved in our game. I did my best to sum it up, but here’s the full letter from the players.
Obviously, this a very poignant issue in June 2020. The actions being taken are long overdue and I applaud the players tremendously for their courage and resilience to deal with racism in hockey for as long as they have. Just like many other hockey fans, I can remember seeing stories in the newspaper and on social media detailing what they go through. I don’t want to say specifically, because I want to eliminate the voices of those racist people as much as possible, but a quick Google search will tell you some details.
Along with almost everyone, I hope this organization grows as much as possible to the point where racism is completely gone from our great game. I say almost because the whole reason the HDA exists is due to those with racist views. I have a lot of faith in its ability to grow for one main reason, and that’s the hockey community itself. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my countless years as a hockey fan, it’s that there are few communities that come together in a time of need more than the hockey community. This is a time of need, and I fully expect this organization to gain traction through fellow players, alumni, and the fans. While not yet an option due to the organization’s infancy, there will likely be a chance to donate to the HDA in the near future. When it becomes available, I’ll be sure to get the word out.