Today, on the one year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has released a statement.
The full statement can be read by clicking the link below, or scroll further for an excerpt courtesy of the NHL's official website.
Today marks one year since George Floyd's murder, a tipping point for our society across issues of racism, social justice, representation and equality. In many ways, this tragedy acted as an accelerant within the sports world, pushing us to use our platforms and influence to stand for what is right.
The NHL's history of tackling these issues, perhaps at times, appeared awkward and uncomfortable. But we are evolving - as individuals, as an organization and as a sport - trying to lead and become part of the solution to challenges that permeate our society, affect hockey's culture and directly impact our business, employees, players and fans. Our Players and team and League personnel no longer desire to 'shut up and play hockey' -- they do not accept the status quo as the best we can offer to all those who love this game - especially those who have not felt fully welcomed in the past.
We believe that our contribution to this movement must start from within. Our aspiration to make hockey for everyone can only be achieved if we allow hockey culture to be created by everyone. Our greatest contributions in the future will not come through performative acts, but through substantive undertakings within leadership development, education, employment, marketing, partnerships, youth participation and community and civic engagement. We have developed new strategies, structures, councils and committees to evolve the way we do business in all these areas and we continue to engage, support and galvanize our most critical stakeholders.
Earlier this year, I and other members of the NHL's Executive team participated in a deep, introspective inclusion learning experience that is currently being rolled out to all NHL employees. This two-day experience was emotional, impactful, insightful and - most importantly - challenging. As Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "What these discussions made clear to me is that as much as I would want each decision to be binary, they very seldom are. Doing the 'right' thing in promoting diversity and inclusion demands taking in, analyzing, processing and making sense of many (sometimes competing) considerations… I intend to be intentional in trying to be cognizant of my own limitations in fully understanding others' perspectives, so that I can factor those limitations into my decision making." I share his sentiments. On a personal level, the session was an opportunity to reflect on the factors that influence our lives and the ways we can all prioritize change going forward.
Personally, I'm not a fan of mixing politics and sport, but Bettman manages to weave the two together commendably. After all, he's always been good with choosing his words. While the murder of George Floyd can bring about some strong emotions for people, including hockey fans, there's no denying that it's a terrible tragedy. What happens next with regards to racial equality in the United States will forever be marked in history as "post George Floyd". There's no denying the fact that May 25th, 2020 was a historical moment in the United States and one that we won't soon forget.