The NHL is the most socially unaware sports league in North America

OpEd writer Aidan Cowling-mcdonnell

“Black lives matter. Breonna Taylor’s life matters. Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater, and it starts with all of us”- Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild Defencemen.

Dumba delivered his powerful speech about systemic racism on Aug. 1, the first day of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dumba’s speech was powerful and needed in the year 2020.

It shouldn’t take one of the few minority players in the NHL to speak up for the league to start taking systemic racism seriously.

On Aug. 26, the NBA postponed three playoff games in protest of the systemic racism displayed in the United States following the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man who was shot in the back seven times. The NHL did not postpone any playoff games but instead waited until Aug. 28.

The NHL has done nothing to promote equality since. Not only was the NHL late to postpone games, but they’ve chosen to have a “business as usual,” attitude during the most crucial racial period in recent history.

“Racism is everywhere, and we need to fight against it. On behalf of the NHL and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, we vow and promise to stand up for justice and what is right,” said Dumba.

It’s almost been two months since Dumba’s speech and since then, there has been no effort made by the NHL to promote change. They have said all the right things, but it all looks like a publicity stunt unless they take things like voting and protecting minorities in hockey more seriously.

One the other hand, the NBA has proven to be the most socially aware sports league in the world. The NBA has done everything from writing “Black Lives Matter” on the courts they play on, to allowing players to put social justice messages on their jerseys like “Justice” or “Vote.”

Malcolm Subban (left) and Darnell Nurse (right) show their support for Matt Dumba (middle) while he kneels for the Canadian and American national anthems.
Malcolm Subban (left) and Darnell Nurse (right) show their support for Matt Dumba (middle) while he kneels for the Canadian and American National anthems. Photo credit: sportsnet

Speaking of voting, NBA teams have opened their home arenas as voting centres for the upcoming American election. The league continues to donate millions of dollars to causes that promote voting and racial equality.

The bottom line is the NBA gets it and the NHL doesn’t.

Cancelling a handful of games or saying “Black Lives Matter” only does so much. While those things are good to a degree for the NHL, if they did even a quarter of what the NBA has done, this column would look very different.

As of 2019, only 43 of NHL players were not white. Unfortunately, this could explain why the NHL continues to ignore the importance of using their platform to promote equality and unity at a time where it seems the world is as divided as it’s ever been.

The NHL hasn’t ignored promoting racial equality. They’ve acknowledged how big of an issue it is in today’s society. But at some point, the NHL has to look at itself and say, “We have to do more.”