Diversity in the NHL

With playoff hockey season in full affect, I started supporting my home team and watching some of the Bruins games again. It would be hard not to notice the lack of diversity in the NHL. There is very little diversity in both the fans of the sport, and the players. The first black hockey player in the NHL was Willie O’Ree, a Canadian that joined the Boston Bruins in 1958. That is almost 10 years after Jackie Robinson joined the MLB. Out of the over 700 roaster spots in the NHL in 2018, only around 30 were filled by players of African descent making it around 4 percent. If we were just talking about African Americans, the number would be less than 1 percent. There are a lot of different theories on why hockey lacks diversity. While it is true that many players in the NHL come from northern European countries like Finland, Sweden, and Russia, 26 percent are American and 45 percent are Canada. Some say that part of it is regional. The places with the biggest emphasis on hockey in America is the north, states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. These states tend to have less black people living there in general. Other people think that there just isn’t a strong enough black culture in hockey yet. Black children don’t see people that look like them playing hokey so they don’t play hockey and then the same thing will happen to the next generation.
Right now P.K. Subban is the best and most famous black hockey player. He is a Canadian who signed a 72 million dollar 8 year deal with Montreal in 2014 but is now playing for the Nashville predators. He has played 9 seasons of major league hockey so far, has over 400 points as a defender, and played in the NHL all star game in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He has been vocal about not having many black hockey players to look up to when he was a kid and wanting to make sure that he is a good role. He says that he wants to show kids, especially black kids, that they can play whatever sport they want, regardless of race.

One Reply to “Diversity in the NHL”

  1. I think that the idea of more African-Americans in hockey would be amazing. While reading your post I thought about my own experiences and exactly why myself or the people around me aren’t more interested in hockey. Some of comes from maybe not having the resources to play a sport like hockey. From what I know about the sport, there is a lot of gear that needs to be purchased and if young children aren’t able to convince their parents to buy the necessary gear, it could be hard to play. Rather with other sports such as basketball or football, you may only need to be a limited set of gear. A ball and a hoop or cones. Also, while reading your post, I could not recall the player’s name but right when you mentioned P.K. Subban, it was who I was thinking of. Something such as this, a successful Black man, goes far for young children when it comes to what they want to spend all day participating in or playing. Even if there were more players who had darker skin and looked like them, the ones who catch their eye may well be the ones are getting the screen time, scoring the most points, voted to the most all-star games. Then that child who sees the successful player can think and go “I want to be like them one day.”

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