Grown men should stop being afraid of rainbows

NHL players refusing to wear Pride Night jerseys is absurd

After what seemed like good steps towards inclusivity in the NHL in the past few years, things are going backwards after some teams cancelled their Pride Night celebrations because players refused to wear Pride jerseys during warm-ups.

Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers was the first NHL player to refuse to wear a Pride Night jersey and to not participate in warm-ups for that reason, despite playing in the game later on.

Many others, including Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers, followed suit. In both cases, the teams still held their Pride Night celebrations. Other teams — the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, and St. Louis Blues — completely discarded their Pride Night warm-ups.

Pride Nights are held to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and make everyone feel welcome in hockey. The special jerseys worn during warm-ups are designed by someone from the LGBTQ+ community, and are later auctioned off to a charity of that community.

While the rest of the team is wearing these beautiful jerseys to celebrate inclusivity, why is opting out even an option?

Well, the reasons stated for refusing to wear them have either been religious beliefs or safety concerns, the latter referring to Russian players who have families in Russia, where same-sex marriage has been constitutionally banned since 2020.

However, the act of wearing these jerseys on its own doesn’t mean support for the LGBTQ+ community. Support comes from much more than just wearing a jersey. But it is a good first step to help fans feel welcome, and it’s also for a good cause.

Now, I can maybe understand the safety concerns for Russian family members, although I still don’t understand how wearing a jersey means anything.

But more importantly, what about the safety of all the marginalized and mistreated LGBTQ+ people in Canada, the United States, and especially in a country like Russia?

If a player is that afraid of the consequences of wearing a rainbow jersey, then perhaps they could also show some concern for the LGTBQ+ community in their home country — and maybe make a donation (of whatever the jersey would’ve been auctioned off for) to an LGTBTQ+ organization, either in the country they play in or back home.

However, the absurdity really comes in when people claim they can’t wear a rainbow jersey because of their “religious beliefs.”

First of all, I wasn’t aware that any religion forbids wearing rainbow jerseys (because once again, wearing these jerseys doesn’t mean supporting anything).

Second of all, if someone is that religious, why do they get to pick and choose what aspect of religion they want to follow? If their religion is against supporting LGBTQ+ people, chances are it also is against working on a Sunday, lying, or sleeping with a partner before marriage. But these players are obviously choosing what they want to “believe in.”

Let’s take the example of the Staal brothers. They both stated religion as the reason for not wearing Pride Night jerseys. However, when Eric was playing for the Montreal Canadiens, he (and the entire team) wore Pride-themed jerseys for Pride Night warm-ups.

His reaction when a reporter brought it up? “I haven’t worn a Pride jersey before.”

Well, there’s a video that proves otherwise, Eric. And I thought lying was a sin in Christianity…

This just proves that if these players weren’t given the option to opt out of warm-ups during Pride Night, they would’ve worn the jerseys — just like Eric did when he was with the Canadiens.

Moreover, the Flyers allowing Provorov to refuse really started an unnecessary wave of players feeling empowered to follow suit.

There is still a lot to be done for hockey to be an inclusive sport, but right now it only seems to be getting worse.

A lot of players have been speaking out about how much it means to them and the fans to hold these events, and even if that’s just a glimmer of hope for inclusivity, it’s better than nothing.

I would also much rather see which players are refusing to wear these jerseys than have Pride Nights cancelled because of a minority who don’t want to participate.

This doesn’t change the fact that grown men being afraid of rainbows is absurd, and no matter what their reason is, if they weren’t allowed to opt out, they wouldn’t be doing it.

After all, no player has opted out of wearing a military-themed jersey for Military Appreciation Night, have they?

So why should it be any different for Pride Night?


At least consider watching baseball this season

The new rules announced for the 2023 season might just make the game more exciting

Baseball fans aren’t known to be receptive to rule changes within their sport, and I am usually no different. That is, until I heard about the new rules announced for the 2023 season.

From the start of spring training, players have had to get used to bigger bases, restrictions on defensive shifts, and a pitch clock. While it has been a learning curve, these rules promise to quicken the pace of action and encourage defensive plays.

The new pitch clock is undoubtedly the biggest change. From now on, pitchers will have up to 15 seconds to throw the ball if the bases are empty, and 20 if there is a runner on base. There will also be a 30-second timer between batters. If the batter violates the time limit, they get a strike. If it’s the pitcher, the batter gets a ball.

This new rule may make games shorter — and believe me, most spectators would appreciate that — but most importantly, it will make the action unfold quicker. It will definitely make the experience more enjoyable and engaging for fans.

The pitcher will now also have only three attempts to throw to first base to get a runner out. If the third attempt fails, the runner gets to advance a base. Because of the limit, stealing bases might become a more common occurrence.

The pitch clock and new defensive shift restrictions will also favour batting averages and the athletic plays that baseball players are known for. 

The defensive shift restrictions entail that the four infielders must be within the diamond when the pitch is thrown. Two players must be on either side of second base, which means they cannot switch sides based on where the batter aims most.

Because of this, batting averages are likely to go up and more runners will be on bases, giving infielders more opportunities for defensive plays. It will also encourage singles and on-field action.

Ironically, this change brings back traditional infielder alignments and the plays that tended to happen before infielders started placing themselves wherever they are more likely to catch the ball.

Meanwhile, the square bases will go from being 15 inches wide to 18. Some argue that this will create more stealing, but the MLB mainly wanted to make stealing and base-running safer.

Luckily, players have all of spring to train and adjust to these new rules and prepare for the regular season. These changes guarantee an exciting 2023 season and a new era in baseball. I can’t wait to tune in to the home openers, and I hope you will too.


Let’s stop calling young athletes “busts”

Everything that’s wrong with labelling prospects and rookies as busts

Let’s begin by defining what a bust is.

A bust is a player who was highly touted and drafted professionally at a high position, but who did not meet expectations. The term carries a negative connotation: that someone is a failure.

There have been discussions going on for decades about how long it takes to determine if a player is a bust or not.

I’d say it takes a few years, two at the very least, before it’s somewhat fair to judge whether or not a player has met expectations.

However, that doesn’t mean I like the word. Because I really don’t, especially not for young players.

Saying an athlete is a bust puts the blame entirely on them, as it implies they’re underperforming. But there are other factors around them that affect their play, including the team that drafted them and is developing them. Let’s also not forget about injuries or personal circumstances outside of their control.

The word bust is used very liberally, and that’s another reason I don’t like it.

You can’t call someone who was drafted higher than expected a bust. You also can’t label someone as a bust because their first few professional games went bad, or if it took them a year or two to reach the major leagues.

People often forget that each athlete is different. Some athletes take longer to develop than others, so while some might start in the big leagues directly after getting drafted and have outstanding success, others might need more time to develop, and sometimes that’s in college, or in the minors. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Of course there are expectations and pressures that come with being drafted high, but the athletes don’t pick when they get drafted. They do their best, and the rest is up to the organizations that draft them.

Also, each draft class is different. Take the 2022 NHL draft class, for example, in which a lot of players lost a year of development because they couldn’t play due to COVID shutdowns. Some draft years are stronger than others. That’s just the way it is.

Management and coaching styles vary between organizations. They might have different plans for their players, and the team in general, which can play a big part in how a player’s confidence grows or diminishes, if they play big or small minutes, if they get sent down to the minors, etc.

And of course, let’s not forget about injuries — the worst reason to call an athlete a bust. Saying someone didn’t meet expectations and is a bust because of something that’s completely out of their control is wrong and people should know better.

Just try to keep in mind that athletes are human, and that prospects and rookies are just kids. You can watch and root for them without being mean and hating on them for needing more time to develop. But if you really want to call someone a bust, maybe, just maybe, give it a few years.


Is paying for sports streaming platforms worth it when you can watch games for free?

No matter which sports you’re a fan of, chances are you’ve probably had to (at least once) find some sketchy website and stream a game there — whether it’s due to regional blackouts, the price of streaming subscriptions, or maybe you’re just a casual sketchy-website user.

Who even has cable nowadays? We all watch our favourite shows on Netflix, Disney+, etc. Now let’s add sports streaming services, especially if you watch more than one or two sports, and that can add up to over $100 per month just for the equivalent of watching TV.

Let’s be realistic, why would you pay for it if you can access it for free?

It kind of makes sense not to.

If you follow one sport, then getting a subscription might be worth it, especially considering how easy these platforms make it to find games and how good the quality usually is. But even then, there will always be inaccessible games because of blackouts, which makes resorting to non-legit streams the only way to watch certain games. Another well-known bypass is to use a VPN to access other markets’ broadcasts, but that means spending even more money.

Saturday 3 p.m. blackouts in the U.K. make it so there are no soccer games being broadcast live on TV from 2:45 to 5:15 p.m.

So how are soccer fans supposed to watch these games? Well, they can find a way to watch international broadcasts instead.

However, there is more to sports games than just watching people chase a ball (or puck) and score points.

The cultural aspect of sports plays a big part in the fan experience, and a part of that experience is felt through commentary during games. That can include the language the broadcast is in, the location, and the commentators’ knowledge about the teams’ history and traditions.

All that can easily be lost when you are watching an international (or national) broadcast with people who aren’t used to those teams, and it almost makes the game lose its charm.

At the end of the day, there is a reason why those illegitimate websites exist and are so popular, particularly when subscription options decrease and prices increase.

The only way for people to consider legit streaming platforms exclusively would be reasonable prices and guaranteed access to all games. However, I doubt we’re getting there anytime soon. So in the meantime, do what you will with what you have.

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