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How pride nights became an NHL culture crisis

The NHL finds itself surrounded by controversy after some hockey players and teams refuse to wear rainbow-themed jerseys saying it’s against their Christian faith or it exposes Russian players to risk.
Hockey sticks wrapped in rainbow coloured-tape on the ice.
Tampa Bay Lightning players warm up with sticks wrapped in rainbows for pride night before a game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on March 22, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Pride Nights began in the NHL about ten years ago. They're meant to send a clear message to LGBTQ+ fans to feel welcome spending money and time watching hockey. 

But since January, a growing number of teams and players are refusing to wear the rainbow-themed jerseys teams use for warm up skates and then auction off to charity. Some players say wearing the jersey is against their faith. Some teams have said they're concerned Russia would see participation as a violation of Putin's anti-gay laws and that would put their Russian players at risk. Now, league commissioner Gary Bettman says the league will need to decide whether Pride Nights should continue. 

Mark Lazerus writes about hockey for The Athletic. He says the NHL is failing to show leadership in this latest crisis of culture. 

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