Hockey is supposed to be for everyone, but Bob Nardella must not have gotten the memo

Hockey is supposed to be for everyone, but Bob Nardella must not have gotten the memo

Isn’t hockey supposed to be for everyone?

Bob Nardella, the head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, has been suspended 10 games for using anti-gay language directed at an official during a Dec. 9 game.

“The American Hockey League is committed to building a culture that is safe, inclusive and free from abuse, harassment and all forms of unethical behavior or misconduct,” the league said in a statement. “During the suspension, Nardella will be permitted to participate in team practices on non-game days; he will be eligible to return to the Wolves bench on Jan. 6.”

The incident happened during the third quarter of a game against the Texas Stars. Wolves forward Kyle Marino, was given a double-minor penalty for high-sticking, and Nardella protested. The 55-year-old coach and Chicago forward Dominic Franco were both given a game misconduct for abuse of an official.

Who can say they are really surprised that this continues to happen in the sport of hockey, a league where pride nights are banned and rainbow stick tape is banned? Only recently did they roll back the ban on pride tape after Coyotes defenseman Travis Dermott used it in warm-ups in October.

10 games is great, but what if we made him sit in a room with queer person and he got to learn about the impact of his words and the harm they truly do? Nardella has now perpetuated exhausted language about a group of people to further alienate them from a sport that they love, and that should be unacceptable.

It’s hypocrisy if you really think about it. The NHL and all subsequent leagues will have nights to honor the military and police, but draw the line at a rainbow. Because what a rainbow represents to LGBTQIA+ individuals is more than just the ability to be seen. It is a signal that anybody belongs in a sport that already has so many barriers to entry. It’s expensive, it’s not easy to pick up unless you have been playing since you could start walking. In a sport that screams elitist, the least it can do is cater to anyone and everyone. It is truly the bare minimum.

But every time someone says something homophobic, every time someone elects to sit out a game because wearing a rainbow is just too much because it clashes with their beliefs or doesn’t compliment their eyes, we get further and further from what the core of sports is all about. Cultivating an environment that is fun to participate in, fun to watch, and fun to see your favorite players do their job every single night. To unite people together to support one another, and push the team to victory. Fans and teammates cannot be united if leagues like the NHL (or perhaps the sport of hockey as a whole) are turning a group of the population away.

A suspension is a good start. We finally have a consequence for this kind of behavior.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.