NHL Players’ Actions Represent a Seismic Shift

It’s not as though we’re going to wake up Saturday morning and all the systemic racism and social injustice will vanish because a group of millionaire hockey players decided to take a couple of days off. And there’s a very good chance that at some point, a George Floyd/Jacob Blake/Breonna Taylor-like incident will dominate the headlines again. So if that’s your measuring stick for the success of the delayed action by NHL players, it’s already a dismal failure.

When someone would be late to join a media scrum, Hall of Fame coach Pat Quinn would talk about that person being, “a day late and a dollar short.” And you could say that about NHL and its players, that they followed the crowd, shamed into following their peers in other sports. But the fact that hockey players, even a day later, joined this fight in a meaningful way, is an enormous shift from even a couple of weeks ago. That those who play a rich sport that is dominated by white players would make the statement they are making is seismic. Forced into dialogue because of the bubble atmosphere they were in, opponents in the same series reached out and talked to one another. White players sought the counsel of their Black teammates and opponents. And they talked. And that’s where the success should be measured.

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