The Edmonton Oilers put their support for LGBTQ youth on full display Sunday, becoming the first NHL team to use Pride Tape, a multicolored tape to promote inclusiveness in sports.
The Oilers wrapped their hockey sticks with the tape Sunday during their annual Skills Competition at Rexall Place.
“Many view professional hockey players as role models and our team felt this was a great initiative to let every person know they’re welcome in the game of hockey,” defenseman Andrew Ference told the Oilers website. “We’re all proud to play for a team and city that supports diversity and human rights.”
“This conversation wouldn’t have happened when I started playing hockey,” Ference said.
“We know that trickle down effect will happen to the younger kids playing the same sport,” he said.
Ference said growing up he had a friend who stopped playing hockey because he was gay and didn’t feel comfortable in the locker room.
“It’s something that means a lot to me, knowing that you’ve had friends who were directly affected.”
Pride Tape is an initiative of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta, which has a Kickstarter campaign currently underway to make 10,000 rolls of the rainbow colored hockey tape, reports metro news.
“We have had supporters from all over the world come and back us,” said Kris Wells, director of the institute.
“Every time we see the NHL become involved we see more people come back the campaign,” he said.
Wells said when they reach their goal they hope to distribute much of the tape to minor hockey organizations. He said they will also encourage them to make sure they’re doing everything they can to be welcoming to LGBTQ players.
“Athletes are profound role models and by using Pride Tape they can send a message of support and inclusiveness without saying any words,” he said.