Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Why did the NHL even bother?

Illustration for article titled Why did the NHL even bother?
Illustration: Shutterstock

While nowhere near the most important facet or phenomenon around the Derek Chauvin verdict, it was rather startling that, within minutes, dozens of companies ushered statements out into the world. This means they had them prepared, which means they had ones prepared for the other outcome, too. Which obviously means they weren’t really concerned with societal impact or change. They just wanted to have something out there to protect an image, basically to keep selling products.

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That was the fear. Not having anything out at all. Because if you remain silent these days, if you’re some type of business or company at least, everyone will fill in the silence for you. And they can’t have that.

Sports were no different, and it’s not that sports should sit out the conversation when they reach so many. But it did lead to the NHL coming up with this beer fart of a sentiment:

No mention of racism, police, Black people, or even what any problem might be that we would require “healing” from. Just the most generic, boilerplate, “let’s get this out there so that something’s out there without making anyone feel anything at all.”

It’s obviously awkward for hockey to weigh in on these things, given that it’s a sport and a fanbase whiter than Taylor Swift’s armpit. No sport has more work to do within its own house to clear out racism and ignorance than hockey.

But hockey, and in particular the NHL, didn’t have the option of staying quiet because of that awkwardness. Not when every other league is going to have something to say, and something a hell of a lot better prepared than whatever commissioner Gary Bettman’s intern from Kitchener, Ontario could come up with.

At the same time, no sport is more terrified of its “Y’all Qaeda” fanbase than hockey. This is a league that can’t get rid of fighting, or hits to the head, or the massive wealth gap problems to even play hockey at the youth level, or racism, or homophobia, or sexual assault and misogyny for fear that current or future incontinent geezers will turn off the game. This is a league that had “Blue Lives Matter” flags projected onto the ice just about a year ago. This is the league after all that, couldn’t even come to terms with the Black coalition of players trying to help it because it actually asked them to do anything.

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So little is asked of hockey and the NHL, and yet they keep failing to clear that ankle-height hurdle. In a vacuum, you almost have to marvel at the ability.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.