The following post is, like all the others, the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of HockeyDraft.ca as a whole.
The National Hockey League is resuming its slate of games Saturday and with it a louder, more definite proclamation of a necessary message: Black Lives Matter.
Those who believe sports are pure entertainment and believe that athletes should “shut up and play” are surely struggling in these most trying times. After all, what is one to do with the discovery that a sports figure is indeed a human being, not a mere object of our shouty weekend ridicule and semi-drunken disdain.
That we, as purported fans of a sport, should choose to crumble at the mere sight of anything meaningful in the actual lives of our heroes is a sign of unadulterated arrogance. We gamble on their accomplishments, treat their victories as though they are our own, and assess every misplayed puck and mislaid body check along the way.
It’s one thing to believe that an athlete is a figure of privilege, of astonishing wealth and class. With that comes a series of issues that can theoretically unpack.
But regardless of how much one is paid to play a sport, we do not own that individual. We do not have control over their thoughts, words, and deeds. We have control over ourselves. We can, as many often do, speak with our dollars and choose not to support those individuals. That is our right.
To do so over an expression of long-held concerns over the discriminatory and sometimes brutal treatment of less privileged people is, at least in the opinion of your trusted puck physician, somewhat unusual. That alleged hockey fans are shoving into social media spaces calling for a “boycott” of the National Hockey League because it chose to recognize that Black Lives Matter is not the greatest of looks.
Equality and the simple recognition that Black Lives Matter is undoubtedly not a political stance.
“We all need to learn a lot about what’s happening outside of our own lives,” Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand said Friday. “A lot of us, we don’t truly understand what it’s like in other peoples’ shoes, and we need to. It’s the only way things are going to change.”
“A little bit of difference going into today’s game after the last 48 hours,” Tampa defenceman Victor Hedman said. “The conversations we’ve had within our team and within the whole bubble, interacting with other teams, that’s been anything but hockey. But today was a different day.”
Today is a different day in the NHL. The players came together to send a message. And that messaging, like it or not, will continue.