I’ve talked about how important “Hockey is For Everyone” games are to people, including me as someone in the LGBT+ community. Recently, I talked about John Klingberg and his dedication to supporting the LGBT+ community.
The St. Louis Blues aren’t even doing that. The Blues are hosting a watch party at the Enterprise Center when the Blues aren’t even playing there. What?!
This is honestly bullshit. And their reasoning behind it? Even more bullshit.
Mike Caruso, VP of Media & Brand Communications for the team, gave statements to USA Today and it doesn’t make them sound better. You can read the statements in full here. The one I want to focus on right now is:
“Due to unprecedented ticket demand and sales following last season’s success, we weren’t able to execute as many ticket promotions as we have in the past.”
So you win the Cup and say “fuck inclusion, we’re having 3 fuckin’ scouts nights”. 3. You couldn’t sacrifice one for a Pride night, to show you care about your LGBT+ fans? Can’t host 2 other nights to honor the diverse communities that support your team? No, follow your money, St. Louis. Lump everyone into the building, collect your concession money, and call it a success, right?
Personally, I am livid about how they have treated their LGBT+ fans and Pride Nights in the recent past.
In 2017 and 2018, the Blues hosted a Pride Night, decked in rainbow flags, t-shirts, and had celebrity puck drops from LGBT heroes. That’s amazing, if my 17 or 18-year-old self could have driven to St. Louis, I might have just to go to this one.
Then last season, they promoted a Pride Night with rainbow bags but then just before they switched it to “Hockey Is For Everyone” Night, even going as far to put the rainbow bags into white bags, which were hard to see through, and changing the name on the website.
So when fans came, expecting a night as banging as the years before, LGBT fans were disappointed to see that they were bait-and-switched. When the organization caught wind that LGBT+ fans were disappointed, they kinda brushed them off. In a statement from Jason Pippi, Blues Operations Director, saying:
“Starting last year, the NHL created the “Hockey is For Everyone” initiative league-wide. The goal is to communicate that hockey is an all-inclusive sport for fans, players and staff. We made every effort to recognize as many communities as possible, including the LGBTQ community. I’m sorry that you were underwhelmed with the overall theme last night. As we continue to go forward, we are continuously learning and tweaking to try to find the right balance of community representation. So this feedback is really helpful to the Blues to make sure we are hitting our marks in upcoming years.” (x)
(You didn’t even learn from your fuck up.)
A N D NOW. Here we are.
Blues fans are disappointed by this move. Here is an amazing post from ThinMints (@MoeErrett) about what this night means to her as an LGBT+ Blues fan and their experience at prior Pride Nights. I was tearing up reading this because, even at Pride Night, she and her wife were still had to deal with people who were ignorant of what these games actually symbolize.
As a Chicagoan, I am lucky the Blackhawks are hosting a Pride Night game (which I’ll be attending), but if they didn’t, I’d be so disappointed and a little heartbroken.
Hockey is an escape for so many people, not just LGBT people. Having a game to show that your organization honors diversity and inclusion is the right way forward and bullshitting your fans out of it is scummy. This feels like a cop-out so the Blues can save face.
The point of a “Hockey is For Everyone” or “Pride Night” game is for fans to feel a part of the game, a part of the team. These games celebrate inclusion in hockey fanbase and having an event, away from the game, that alienates certain fans from the game atmosphere, is the exact opposite of inclusion. You’re separating fans from the game.
Reading into this and seeing that these fans have been duped a few times gives me the same bitter gut feeling I get when thinking about things such as the moving of Love, Victor or when someone tells me I know nothing about hockey because I’m a woman.
It’s an isolating, consuming, angry anxiety that builds. I don’t even like the Blues and I still feel that same anxiety when reading about this. I want to reach through the screen and hug ThinMints and the other fans who feel excluded from the thing they love most.
Hey, Blues organization, realize how much this night means to people and stop being idiots. Realize how insulting this actually is to the people that “Hockey is For Everyone” encompasses. Especially when you say you can’t fit it in but have 3 scout nights, a Star Wars night, a soccer night, and “Ladies Night”.
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Featured Image: Twitter (The replies to this tweet made me so sad jfc)