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The National Hockey League just banned Pride Tape use

Last week, in a memo stating rules for upcoming theme nights, the National Hockey League banned the use of pride tape for players. The rainbow-colored tape for hockey sticks was formally in free use by players looking to celebrate their identity—or signal allyship—at special events. The guidance states that traditional uniforms can’t be altered for individual expressions no matter the type of celebration, including use in special theme nights beyond pride.

As trans athlete Chris Mosier explained in a detailed thread, the new guidance doesn’t just impact Pride celebrations: it hurts individual players’ abilities to represent important causes and auction off gear in support of cancer research or even veteran awareness and services.

Mosier isn’t the only one speaking out. The LGBTQ+ sports advocacy organization You Can Play came out against the decision in a statement. “It is now clear that the NHL is stepping back from its longstanding commitment to inclusion, and continuing to unravel all of its one-time industry-leading work on 2SLGBTQ+ belonging,” the statement read. “We are now at a point where all the progress made, and relationships established with our community, is in jeopardy. Making decisions to eradicate our visibility in hockey — by eliminating symbols like jerseys and now Pride Tape — immediately stunts the impact of bringing in more diverse fans and players into the sport.”

The makers of Pride Tape are likewise not thrilled with the backwards decision.

The fact that players can no longer use pride tape signals, perhaps, an increasingly conservative take on team sports that we’ve seen echoed in the proliferation of nationwide anti-trans sports bans this year.

Sports fans—and queer lovers of hockey in particular—are disappointed and upset by the league’s decision.

But perhaps the mandate represents a new fundraising opportunity…

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