Column: NHL unnecessarily bans pride tape

In June, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) board of governors banned the use of tape with LGBTQ+ pride designs to support its ban on themed uniforms. This ban has sparked a debate within the fanbase.

The NHL is back in full swing with the season starting on Oct. 10. Players and fans have wasted no time to express their opinions on the issue. Travis Dermott, a player for the Arizona Coyotes, wrapped his stick in rainbow tape in last Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Some players cited their religious beliefs and values in support of the ban. Fans have also defended the ban, arguing that the league should just stick to playing the game and disregard social justice issues and messages. On the other hand, some players and fans, such as Dermott, oppose the ban and do not see tape as a distraction from the game.

The process of taping in Hockey helps protects the blade and provides a better grip. Photo courtesy of @NYIslanders, X

The league’s ban on themed uniforms was acceptable. Players do not have a choice when it comes to the themes on uniforms. This means they have to wear their uniform as is, regardless of their stance. With the ban on pride tape, players have lost individuality in their uniforms. Tape has been used as a way for players to show support for a certain cause. With the ban on themed uniforms and tape, freedom of expression is reduced, at best.

I believe the NHL has made the wrong choice in banning pride-themed tape. As I have said, the banning of custom uniforms is understandable because players may or may not support the message associated with the uniforms. Tape allows everyone to express themselves as they want, and does not force anyone else to support a cause. Use Dermott as an example. He used rainbow tape last Saturday, and nobody else on the ice did the same. Nobody was obligated to use pride tape, and the game was played with no issues.

Based on the response from the LGBTQ+ community, the ban alienates LGBTQ+ people. This has left the NHL’s image in question. This policy has created a problem by attempting to fix a problem that does not exist. On Tuesday, the NHL officially rescinded their ban on pride tape after the criticism from both fans and players. In a statement, the NHL Players Association said they were “pleased to see the league’s policy has been revised so that players are free to support causes they believe in.”

Although the ban has been lifted for this season, the league has not made it clear as to whether or not the ban will be in effect for future seasons. Despite the reversal, the four-month ban on pride tape still calls into question the image of the NHL.


Featured photo courtesy of @NYIslanders, X