The “Hockey is for Everyone” Campaign will occur every day throughout February, presented by the National Hockey League (NHL), the League’s Member Clubs, and the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA). These groups have teamed up with the You Can Play Project (also one of CCGSD’s Community Partners) and other organizations to raise awareness about diversity in sports, particularly hockey. Each day this month will feature activities to focus on areas such “as LGBTQ(+ issues), ethnicity and gender equality, socio-economic status, and those with disabilities” in regards to athletic inclusion. “The campaign marks the first time the Players’ Association, the League[,] and its Clubs have collaborated to encourage teamwork, inclusiveness[,] and diversity in hockey at all levels daily for an entire calendar month.”
Some examples of this quotidian programming have been:
- “Ice time” for local girls’ groups (like the Girl Scouts in Columbus and with a collaboration between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation;
- A wheelchair hockey game for students from the Viscardi Center, a private but state-supported school in New York City for students with severe physical disabilities, attended and helped out by some members of the New York Islanders;
- Fatima Al Ali (a player for the UAE women’s national hockey team) who – with the help of Peter Bondra (retired NHL star) – is being sponsored to come to Washington DC, meet her idol Alex Ovechkin, attend practices of both the Capitals and the Washington Pride (of the Junior Women’s Hockey League), and go to a Caps game against the Detroit Red Wings;
- And importantly, players from each of the thirty NHL teams becoming You Can Play (YCP) Ambassadors and standing up against homophobia in sports.
Significantly, these Ambassadors include:
- Curtis McKenzie of the Dallas Stars, who got to know Brendan Burke (an out gay man and hockey team manager whose brother and father created YCP after his untimely death from a car accident) from his time with the hockey team at the Miami University campus in Oxford, Ohio; and
- Andrew Shaw of the Montreal Canadiens, who was fined and suspended from a game for using a homophobic epithet against an official in April 2015. Jillian Svensson, VP Develop & Operations for YCP, is fully supportive of his nomination to be Ambassador, since “[a]t the end of the day, the You Can Play message is about making people aware of the impact of their language.” Andrew has been very apologetic and remorseful about his comment(s) after the fact, and is a great example of somebody who has learned from their mistakes, realized the effects of the words they use, and changed their behaviour.
That is one of the goals of CCGSD’s Sports Inclusion Program – to make people aware of their language, the power behind these words, and how unintended and undesirable consequences can be created through our diction.
We are very pleased with the NHL’s February initiative and are happy to have more allies in our corner/on our team! (To use a sports pun)
And also proud to report that Jefferson, our Sports Inclusion Coordinator, successfully booked workshops to train the entire 6th, 7th, and 8th grades about LGBTQ+ Awareness in Sports at a local elementary school in May! He is over the moon about that and can’t wait to disseminate further education!
If you or anybody you know would like to book a Sports Inclusion workshop with the CCGSD, please don’t hesitate to contact Jefferson at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns, or comments! They are free and we are flexible with dates and locations.
For more information about the “Hockey is for Everyone” Campaign, visit this site.