The NHL and their players cannot solve the world’s problems.
What they can do, however, is make a statement.
What happened yesterday during NHL action was a statement — a tone deaf statement based on what was happening around them in the sports world.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
Moment of reflection for Jacob Blake prior to Bruins/Lightning game pic.twitter.com/qkwLN5ueJC— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) August 27, 2020
I get the argument that the Milwaukee Bucks, who started this movement, are closer to the Jacob Black attempted murder, with the horrific incident happening right down the highway of their home court in Kenosha.
But after Milwaukee made their statement yesterday, what happened was a historic moment in sports.
The rest of the NBA games were cancelled that day. Then the MLB. The WNBA and the MLS quickly followed suit.
That left the NHL as the only major North American sports league to continue playing yesterday.
I do think it’s important for people to not just make snap judgements and say “the NHL was wrong” or “the NHL should keep playing” WITHOUT putting yourselves in the shoes of both ultra-competitive hockey players, and in the shoes of visible minorities, and African Americans in particular.
The NHL players want to play. They’re making a sacrifice by playing in these weird bubbles away from their families during a global pandemic.
I get that it’s not an easy situation for them to suddenly flip the switch and force the cancellation of a hockey game because of something that doesn’t directly affect most of them.
Jason Dickinson of the Dallas Stars alluded to that yesterday.
Here's @DallasStars forward Jason Dickinson, who took a knee during the anthems in the round-robin, on the NHL players' decision not to join NBA and MLB in protests tonight. Speaking from the heart. pic.twitter.com/VpKcheHFDb— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 27, 2020
And really, it’s a shame. It’s one thing for leagues with more diversity, or leagues with predominantly black players, to make a statement.
However, think about what that would have meant for the most privileged, white sports league in North America to say “we’re standing with our fellow humans and the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Most of you reading this are probably full grown adults with your minds made up about your views on the world. The pause from yesterday, in that case, might mean nothing for you.
If that’s the case, forget about yourselves. Think about what its mean to the next generation (the young kids, if you will) if they saw players they idolize taking a moment to step away from the game to bring more attention to the Black Lives Matter movement?
The NHL can’t solve the problems of the world in a day, but they can force families to have a conversation about why the games aren’t being playing, and why it’s important to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement so that white people holding positions of power STOP SHOOTING UNARMED BLACK PEOPLE.
That conversation with the next generation means more than a damn hockey game.
Look, I’m no expert on the issue, and my Silky N’ Filthy podcast partner Kyle Bhawan would say the same thing.
While we had the opportunity for lots of glorious hockey talk yesterday, we shelved that to have a discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement, the NHL’s response, and why more needs to be done.
Remember, it’s just a game.