Professional and minor league teams have employed many strategies when it comes to themed jerseys. But few have been as interesting or inclusive as the Hartford Wolf Pack’s threads for Friday night’s game, which will be decorated with the names of hundreds of fans who took part in Hartford’s “Kindness Pledge.” The specialty jerseys, which will be worn on Anti-Bullying Night, are closely tied to
the Wolf Pack’s Kindness Campaign because the organization believes that in order to stop bullying, overall kindness must be promoted. “Anti-bullying and being respectful is definitely a growing issue with social media and things of that nature,” said Adam Goldberg, the Wolf Pack’s director of business development. “We thought that it would be a good opportunity for us to have this issue brought to more light with the Anti-Bullying Night.”
What exactly is a Kindness Pledge? Goldberg explained it wasn’t just about bullying. With the breadth of coverage bullying gets, the Wolf Pack learned the term could sometimes be watered down. By promoting it in a new way – being kind – they may be able to get through to bullies. “A lot of the times, from what we’ve heard is, for lack of a better term, bullies don’t realize they’re bullies or they won’t admit to themselves that they’re a bully,” said Goldberg. “So we want the message to be, ‘Be more kind. Be more respectful,’ as opposed to, ‘Stop bullying.’ And that was part of the process of creating the ‘Kindness Pledge.’”
The Kindness Campaign kicked off on Nov. 5, the same day as the Hartford’s School Day, and attempts to raise awareness and stress the message that we should all be more considerate. Throughout the Friday game, the team will present facts to the fans, such as the “Three Rs of Bullying Prevention,” which are to recognize bullying, respond to and report it. By putting the Kindness Pledge names on the jerseys, the hope is they’ll take their pledge seriously. “We wanted to have some interaction with our fans, really take ownership of the night and take pride in being a leader in their community by being more kind and respectful,” said Goldberg. “We opened up not only to the students who came to our School Day game, but to all of our fans. We want to spread the message of being more kind.” Not everyone was immediately receptive of the Kindness Campaign coming from a team that plays a sport sometimes considered more aggressive than others. Trying to give an anti-bullying message through a game in which fighting is met with a five-minute penalty can be difficult, but, Goldberg said, what happens on the ice and off the ice are entirely different things. “Off the ice, these guys are incredibly respectful to one another,” Goldberg said. “You even see it after some fights, they’ll pat each other on the back and say good fight. It’s part of the game. And once they step off the ice, it’s all about being respectful to one another.” During the second intermission, the jerseys will be auctioned off and the winning bidders will be handed their sweater on ice following the game. All proceeds from the auction will go to the National School Climate Center, which works to improve learning climates in classrooms.