Most hockey television spots are not usually a must-watch thing. But when it comes to improving the sport and working on getting racism out of the game, they matter.
The campaign spot released by The Hockey Diversity Alliance and Budweiser to kick off their #TapeOutHate campaign tackles head-on the racism which has targeted many in the game we all love. The video shows members of the HDA, such as Wayne Simmonds, Matt Dumba, Nazem Kadri, Anthony Duclair, and Akim Aliu discussing their experiences dealing with racism in the game.
Both the HDA and Budweiser need to be applauded for not sugar-coating any of this. While the advertisement that aired on television was censored, there is an uncensored one online featuring strong language. The uncensored version shows you truly how much players of color go through in the sport.
If seeing what so many of these players, and other people of color, go through in the sport – myself included — makes you want to put an end to racism, then the ad is doing its job.
The reality is: if you're not white and you play hockey, no matter the level, at some point slurs will be hurled your way. Too long in hockey has racism been buried or played off as just one dumb person, with players being told to just ignore it. Facing it head on is something that more and more people need to do in the sport.
It's an ad that's currently being celebrated, with people of all walks of life coming together to share their thoughts. It's one thing for this campaign to be put into motion by the founders, but it's another when allies use their platforms to amplify it and want to stand by it. Now is not the time to let a campaign like this sit on an island supported by only a few.
The Toronto Maple Leafs shared its support of Simmonds on Saturday, and Minnesota Wild players had the HDA's stick tape on their blades. Hopefully, we can get to a point where players on all 32 teams in the NHL and across various leagues are using the tape and showing their support.
The HDA's work hasn't always been easy but it's great to see them continue to press on as they work to make the sport a better place for all.