Our Response to the NHL Pride Ban

Hockey is for everyone. Hockey should be for everyone.

The Madison Gay Hockey Association’s central mission is to provide opportunities to play hockey for people who have historically felt marginalized in traditional sports settings. We’re committed to putting those people in pads, giving them a stick, and teaching them to love the game as much as we do.

The NHL’s recent decision to ban Pride jerseys and Pride tape is directly contradictory to our mission, and makes our work so much harder. How are queer and questioning athletes supposed to feel about hockey when one of the premiere hockey organizations in the world is loudly proclaiming, “you’re not welcome here”?

Getting queer folks to play hockey is hard. Most of us have grown up being taught that team sports are not for us and that we’re not welcome, hearing as much from coaches, from classmates, from opponents – and now also from the NHL. The MGHA works tirelessly to convince people who have grown up hearing this to give hockey a try. It’s hard work – there are a lot of scared faces the first time a new cohort steps on the ice, and some quit before they even get that far.

And the people who stick it out? It can be life-altering. At the end of each season, our players have the opportunity to respond to the essay prompt “What Gay Hockey Means To Me.” They write about how much the hockey community has come to mean to them, how they’ve grown as people and as athletes, and how hockey has become a positive and empowering force in their lives. We hear about the positive impact hockey can have, year after year after year.

The MGHA is the largest gay hockey league in the world. We have 270 skaters for the 2023-2024 season and are fielding 18 teams. Our organization is steadfastly dedicated to the idea that hockey is for everyone, and we’ve been incredibly successful in convincing our community that there is a place for them in hockey.

The NHL has the opportunity to be a part of this. The NHL is in the best position to make hockey a welcoming, inclusive space. The first step: reverse the Pride ban. Let our community know that you’ve heard us, and that there’s a space for us in the NHL. You started the “Hockey Is For Everyone” initiative – prove to us that you mean it.

The NHL has been a force for good in this space, and can be again.