In a blow to leftist campaigners, the National Hockey League (NHL) is banning Pride rainbow tape from hockey sticks. The organization sent a memo to all national teams after some requested clarification on the issue. The NHL responded that the ban applies to all on-ice activities, including during games, warm-up, and practice.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said players are free to support what causes they wish in their private time, but jerseys or other insignia supportive of political or social issues act as a “distraction” during games and won’t be permitted. He said teams can still host specialty events or sell merchandise that reflects a specific political or social standing.
“Players shall not be put in the position of having to demonstrate (or where they may be appearing to demonstrate) personal support for any Special Initiatives,” he added.
The matter caused division and controversy earlier this year when some players refused to wear rainbow symbols. Philadelphia Flyers player Ivan Provorov cited his religious beliefs when he refused to warm up with his teammates during a Pride Night contest against the Anaheim Ducks. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” he said.
Mr. Provorov, who belongs to the Russian Orthodox faith, was met with mixed responses when he posted his opinions on Twitter. One poster wrote that rainbow symbolism is essentially a left-wing belief system, so nobody should be forced to promote it, while others accused the player of bigotry and homophobia.
The introduction of politics to sport appears to cause strife across the board. In Los Angeles, for example, the LA Dodgers faced internal conflict and protests when they invited a controversial drag act to a contest against San Francisco in honor of Pride.
GOP Senator Marco Rubio became involved in the row and wrote to the Dodgers saying they had disrespected their Christian fans.
Some church members, however, backed the inclusion of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence because of their work with AIDS patients.