NHL expands their ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ campaign, celebrating Black History Month for first time

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NHL expands their ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ campaign, celebrating Black History Month for first time

Michael Caruso, Senior Writer

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February is Black History Month, a time to reflect upon and celebrate the African American individuals, culture, and events that have shaped our nation while simultaneously furthering our understanding of racial inequality. Almost all professional sports organizations partake in this month-long event by looking back and praising pioneers.

 

In a league that predominantly consists of white players, the National Hockey League (NHL) decided this year to expand their former “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign into the celebration of Black History Month. Although the NHL has about 20 Black players on all active rosters combined, there appears to be a trend of more minorities joining developmental teams at younger ages, sparking a cultural change for the sport of hockey.

 

“I think a focus like this during Black History Month will affirm those many kids of color that are already playing our game,” League Executive Vice President Kim Davis said. “I think we often underestimate the pipeline of talent that is already involved in our game.”

 

What is particularly interesting about the meaningful shift in the campaign is that the NHL is not only celebrating Black History Month, but also taking a step forward in celebrating all types of racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity seen in our society today. For instance, the old “Hockey is for Everyone” movement is now going to expand and cover gender equality next month in March and Hispanic and Native American heritage for the first time next season. Players all around the league are excited to see what the future holds for the NHL.

 

“The players are committed to inclusion in the sport and happy to see ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ expand as a year-long initiative,” Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said. “As a (Hockey is for Everyone) ambassador, I know that important conversations and perspectives will be shared as part of the Black History Month celebration, with the goal of creating a welcoming environment while promoting the continued diversity of players and fans.”

 

Although the NHL is late to the game, this is a terrific step forward in becoming all-inclusive in years to come. The NHL taking this stand for diversity is significant for both fans and players. Being able to celebrate all races and ethnicities is essential in overcoming racial segregation seen both on and off the ice. This shift should generate more inclusion in the sport and foster change for kids who are minorities all around the country, as they will now be more eager to join the sport.

 

It is still early to tell the impact that this movement will have on the game of hockey, but the league is moving in the right direction by celebrating the history of those who helped revolutionize the game–like Willie O’Ree, the first Black hockey player in the NHL. Sports as a whole are aimed at bringing people around the world together, and with this newly initiated idea of celebrating Black History Month and expanding our reflection of all who have helped make hockey what it is today, we will likely be seeing a more diverse NHL very soon.

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