The NHL and many of its teams have released statements, some better than others, on the murder of George Floyd.
The Stars statement was remarkably on-brand for them, meaning incredibly dull and mediocre. Dallas did not commit to any specific action, do anything to spread awareness, or even announce any sort of donation to charity helping to fight injustice.
Given the teams’ financial struggles, it is a fair argument to excuse them from a donation given the recent furloughs and releasing of scouts. It is worth noting however that the Dallas Stars have a net worth of $600 million dollars as of the 2018-2019 season per Forbes. The Stars do deserve a small amount of credit for at least posting something as the New York Rangers and Dallas Cowboys have been silent, unsurprisingly. A person or organization can do better than another, however, that does not make it good.
It costs $0.00 to help spread awareness in a meaningful way. The LA Galaxy for example released its statement in a different way than the other teams. LA added an entire page on the team’s page with resources and organizations to help fight injustice in the community. The Galaxy even committed to partnering with the newly announced African-American focused Employee Network Group to improve diversity. That is a statement.
The Stars have to back up their words through actual, meaningful action. It has to be something more than one social media post or one special theme night. Motivation to help the Black community, the LGBTQ+ community, the Latinx community, and all other minority groups needs to come from a meaningful place. It cannot be a money grab or a PR grab. Social awareness of the Dallas Stars would receive a 0 if such a stat existed in NHL 20. Releasing a calendar in collaboration with the Dallas Police Department months after the murder of Botham Jean was so incredibly tone-deaf. It is time for the organization to be held accountable by the fans and its players.
Dallas is not the only organizational body that needs to change. USA Hockey and the NHL do not do enough as is to promote diversity which is part of the problem and is a symptom of police brutality in this country. Diversity helps promote education about other cultures outside of our own and makes it easier to accept people who are different. Hockey, the NHL, and the Dallas Stars all fail to help promote diversity which is why all of their statements ring hollow. It is just a PR event that they felt obligated to participate in. Change is needed for the sport to continue.
One night to recognize Black people, Latinx, or the LGBTQ+ community is not enough, especially given how lazy the league and Stars are with these events. The goal of hockey is to grow and get new fans and players from different backgrounds. Hockey is a dominantly White sport. This is a league and sport that has been riddled with abuse but fails to continually do anything substantive to address the cause. Numerous players have talked about the struggles of racial abuse they have endured, including Gemel Smith, PK Subban, and most recently Akim Aliu.
The NHL took 9 days to release a weak statement on Akim Aliu’s article in The Players Tribune. Given this is the same league that took hours to respond to the abuse of K’Andre Miller, this is not a shock. Gary Bettman and the NHL also never addressed the death threats received by JT Brown for his raising a fist, a silent and non-violent act, during the National Anthem. The league does not value any of its players outside of as a means to an end. The NHLPA needs to become stronger and do better to force the league to help protect Black and other minority players.
If the Dallas Stars and the NHL want to prove they actually do care about police brutality, injustices, systematic racism, discrimination in their league, they need to do more.
Some will ask what can they do?
UEFA has set a model the league and teams can follow. They can show they can take action through hiring, committing to putting on actual meaningful diversity nights, conferences about diversity, and how to help in the community. Additionally, the team can go out in the community and participate in outreach programs. The NHL is comprised of teams worth millions, if not billions, they have the resources to make changes. What remains to be seen is will they follow through.
At the end of the day, the league, the sport, the teams, and the fans all have to be cognizant of the experiences and feelings of the Black community. Black Lives Matter. It is everyone’s obligation to create the change we seek and to make the world a better place.
This is bigger than a game.
This is not about politics; it is about making the world a better and safer place for everyone.
Featured image: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images