Prizm News / February 7, 2018 / By Bob Vitale
The National Hockey League’s ‘Hockey Is for Everyone’ program aims to make the sport more welcoming and diverse.
By Bob Vitale
The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus will sing the National Anthem and players will sport a splash of rainbow color on Saturday when the Columbus Blue Jackets host LGBTQ fans for Pride Night.
It’s part of a National Hockey League outreach effort, as the sport puts it, “to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities.” Hockey Is for Everyone, as it’s called, includes programs to make the sport’s rosters more racially diverse and its arenas more welcoming to all fans.
Each NHL team has a Hockey Is for Everyone night this month, and many include Pride Night events to recognize LGBTQ players and fans.
“We believe all hockey programs – from professionals to youth organizations – should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status,” the league says.
A representative of the Columbus Ohio Gay Lesbian Ally Hockey Association will be among people introduced in pre-game ceremonies.
“We want an inclusive and positive atmosphere in our sport,” said Andee Boiman, the Blue Jackets’ director of fan development and community programs. “This is a way to celebrate and bring awareness to those who have been marginalized.”
As part of the Pride Night observance, Blue Jackets players will use rainbow-colored “pride tape” on their sticks during pre-game warmups, and some of the sticks will be autographed and auctioned off to support You Can Play, a national organization that works to make sports more inclusive and welcoming for LGBTQ athletes at all levels.
You Can Play has Ohio roots. Brendan Burke, the son of longtime NHL executive Brian Burke, was the student manager for the men’s hockey team at Miami University when he came out publicly in 2009. He was killed in a car crash less than three months later.
His father and brother, an NHL scout, helped start the organization in 2011.
Tickets for Pride Night are $35. The price includes a ticket in the Sky Terrace, a Pride Night puck, the opportunity to do a post-game slap shot on the ice and the chance to win pregame and in-game fans experiences.