In-Depth Discussion Hosted by Liam McHugh About Race, Diversity and Inclusion in Hockey
“I don’t have that same ability to take the skin off my shoulders like shoulder pads, hang it up and say ‘on to the next, I’m going to go live my life now.’ This is my reality.” – Carter on continuing to fight social injustice
STAMFORD, Conn. – June 18, 2020 – NHL on NBC analyst Anson Carter, NBC Sports Chicago analyst Jamal Mayers and current professional women’s hockey player and Los Angeles Kings scout Blake Bolden join host Liam McHugh for a conversation on race, diversity and inclusion in hockey on the latest episode of NBC Sports’ NHL weekly podcast, Our Line Starts, tonight at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Carter, Mayers, Bolden and McHugh discuss a number of topics, including the current climate among players in the NHL, how to increase diversity and inclusion in the sport of hockey and their plans to continue fighting social injustice.
Following are excerpts from today’s episode of Our Line Starts:
Carter on organizing this social media video surrounding social injustice and unrest: “I watched the (George Floyd) video and I was outraged. It’s not like I was surprised what happened because in the black community we’ve known and heard stories over and over again. But to actually see the video of it, really made it hit home even harder. And the fact that the officer knew he was being recorded and just looked like ‘I don’t care, nothing is going to happen to me anyways,’ it really struck a nerve with me and I wanted to say something, and I wanted it to come from the hockey community … It’s tough sometimes for people to speak out in the hockey community because it’s not part of the hockey culture and I thought it would be nice for everyone to come together and feel comfortable speaking within the group.”
Carter on how to continue fighting social injustice: “These conversations aren’t going to be easy … It’s like running a marathon. Training for a marathon, the first time you go out there and run, you’re exhausted and tired, but once you start building up that endurance, and you do it every single day, it becomes easier. That’s what these conversations are all about … I don’t have that same ability to take the skin off my shoulders like shoulder pads, hang it up and say ‘on to the next, I’m going to go live my life now.’ This is my reality.”
Bolden on increasing diversity in the sport of hockey: “I think the hardest challenge with diversifying the sport is getting those individuals who aren’t traditional hockey players to be invested in the game … I think we have to be creative in our conversation coming up with different ways and ideas to throw that line out and catch the love and excitement of these young individuals.”
Mayers: “This old school attitude that the sanctity and beauty of the game, and hockey culture, has to be willing to change – and until that’s willing to change, we have a problem.”
Mayers on the current climate of social injustice: “I’m a husband, a father of three kids, I work in the game, I played in the game a long time. I wear a lot of different hats, so I spent a lot of time just being upset, being sad about what happened, disappointed about how much progress has not been made, but in the same light, I’ve been very encouraged. I’m thankful for social media, it’s given current players, white players, a voice that they’ve used in a positive manner. I’m encouraged that players are speaking out and using their platform … My hope is this sparks real systemic change across all walks of life.”
Bolden on increasing women participation in hockey: “I think more doors will continue to open. You see Kendall Coyne (Schofield) on TV on a regular basis and women are starting to say ‘hmm, there is room for me in this sport’ … As we’re diversifying the sport on ice, we can do that in the (league and team) offices as well.”
Mayers on current players in the NHL: “These young players and the game has trended younger and younger, they’re different than the guys Anson and I played with in our era … They’re more compassionate, forward-thinking, tolerant, accepting of others and I’m very encouraged that they really do want to make change.”
Carter on opportunities in the sport: “People have to understand there’s opportunities within the game if you love (the sport) to stay involved. You don’t have to play on an NHL team, you can be involved in professional hockey at the highest level without playing. There’s a place for everyone if you love the game.”