As professional sports awaken from a months-long hiatus, moving back into the spotlight amid a period of reflection on the impact of systemic racism, voices from across the sports world are uniting in support of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and its mission to eradicate racism and intolerance from the game.
Launched in early June, the HDA has been spurring important dialogue within the sport for the past two months, engaging in discussions with the NHL, NHLPA, Hockey Canada, USA Hockey and a number of teams and team owners about how to move towards meaningful change.
On Thursday, a number of athletes, media members and others throughout the sports world, voiced their support for the Alliance’s long-needed mission.
Those announcing they stand with the HDA and its efforts ranged from NHL stars like Darnell Nurse, Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin and Mitch Marner; women’s hockey stars Saroya Tinker and Natalie Spooner; former Toronto Raptor Danny Green; NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and Marshawn Lynch; former world No. 1 golfer Brooks Koepka; Sportsnet’s own Donnovan Bennett, David Amber, Anthony Stewart, Chris Simpson, Faizal Khamisa and Sonny Sachdeva; Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney, and a number of others from the NHL and elsewhere.
“I support the Hockey Diversity Alliance,” announced those in the video. “I stand with Akim Aliu and Evander Kane to fight racism in hockey and in society.”
Founded by co-heads Aliu and Kane, along with executive committee members Trevor Daley, Matt Dumba, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart and Joel Ward — later joined by Nazem Kadri and Anthony Duclair — the HDA’s stated goal is “to create sustainable change on all levels of hockey.”
“At the top, we will educate and encourage accountability from our leagues and leaders. At the grassroots level, we will work to ensure hockey is accessible to anyone who loves the game,” the Alliance says of their approach, via the HDA website.
The group’s website also details how they plan to allocate their support for different means of improving inclusivity and accessibility within the game — their focus will be mostly on grassroots hockey development and equipment programs; followed by anti-racism and unconscious bias education programs; social justice initiatives in support of Black, Indigenous and racialized communities; administration and fundraising; scholarships for qualified youth players; and executive training and coaching programs.
The effort to achieve those proposed goals will come in line with what the organization calls the ‘HDA Pledge’ — to “create policy and rule changes that make the culture of the game more inclusive, establish specific targets for hiring, promoting and partnering with Black individuals and businesses, execute educational programming to increase awareness of racism in hockey, and fund impactful social justice initiatives.”
The HDA recently raised roughly $18,000 through a national fundraising program that consisted of selling apparel emblazoned with the words ‘Change Hockey Culture’ — all net profits from said apparel sales went to the HDA and Aliu’s Time To Dream Foundation, which aims to help underprivileged youth find success in sport and beyond.
“Hockey will be a stronger and better game when we fully embrace our diversity,” the Alliance says, via their website. “By making our game accessible and safe for everyone, we will strengthen our connection to each other, to our communities, and to our fans.”