Hiltzik: The Gutless NHL – Los Angeles Times


Most kids, perhaps by the age of 10, have learned the lesson that the worst way to appease bullies is to give them what they want.


This truism seems to have escaped the notice of the National Hockey League, which turned 105 in November. Otherwise, why would the NHL cowardly succumb to America’s preeminent political bully, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis?

Focusing on DeSantis’ bullying was an NHL job fair that was open, according to a post on the league’s LinkedIn page, “to participants 18 years of age or older, residents of the United States, identify as female, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, ancestry Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and/or someone with a disability.”

“Discrimination of any kind is not welcome in the state of Florida.”

— Brian Griffin, Ron DeSantis’ spokesperson, cracked a sarcastic joke

The event, called “The Road to the Top of Hockey,” is scheduled to take place on February 2 as part of the NHL’s All-Star Game festivities in Fort Lauderdale.

Bad choice of venue. Scheduling an event meant to connect with “diverse job seekers who pursue careers in hockey,” the NHL put it, was like waving a red cape in front of Republican DeSantis, who reacts with theatrical disgust at anything of “diversity.” “

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Unsurprisingly, DeSantis threw in the collusion.

His spokesperson declared that “Discrimination of any kind is not welcome in the State of Florida, and we do not abide by the awakened notion that discrimination should be condoned if it is applied in a politically popular fashion or against a politically unpopular demographic.”

The spokesperson, Brian Griffin, added that DeSantis called on the NHL to “immediately remove and condemn its discriminatory prohibitions on attending the 2023 Pathway to Hockey Summit.”

NHL decline. The league removed the Linkedin post and issued a soothing statement, describing Path to Hockey’s Summit as merely “an informational and networking event designed to encourage all individuals to consider a career in our game – and in particular, to alert those who may not be familiar with hockey of the opportunities it offers.”

Much to communicate. (The league has not responded to my request for comment.)

Some related notes:

First, if DeSantis was implying that the NHL discriminated against any group not included in its original calling — white males, for example — he must have lost his mind. It’s hard to find a professional sports league anywhere in the world that’s less diverse than the NHL.

a A periodic demographic study was released Last year it found that its workforce, both league and team, was 83.6% White, 3.74% Black, 3.71% Latino. Among the employees, approximately 62% were male. More than 93% identified as straight or heterosexual, 1.12% as gay and 0.81% as lesbian.

Of the league’s 32 teams, how many have a black general manager? The first: Mike Grier, who was hired last year by the San Jose Sharks as the league’s first black general manager.

Other major sports leagues had reached this historic milestone decades earlier: Major League Baseball with Bill Lucas of the Atlanta Braves in 1976 (team owner Ted Turner kept the GM title, but Lucas ran the team); National Basketball Association. in 1972 with Wayne Embry of the Milwaukee Bucks; National Football League in 2002 with Ozzie Newsom of the Baltimore Ravens.

The NHL claimed in its diversity report that it is “working hard to bring about a new era of inclusion, diversity, and equality in hockey,” including by hiring a full-time hiring director who is “focused on attracting diverse talent to the organization.”

However, the report acknowledged that “there is a lot of work to be done”.

The most disgusting thing about the NHL’s cowardly capitulation to DeSantis is that the league is big and rich enough to strike back at Florida’s petty dictator. He could have stuck his ground, making it clear to the audience his goal of diversity, preserving the character of his outreach event, and daring DeSantis to do something about it.

DeSantis may make some noise, but it’s unlikely he would have any legal grounds to block Ft. Lauderdale event or sanctioning the NHL. So the league’s light-hearted reaction to DeSantis’ hard game (so to speak) only emboldened him to exaggerate even more as the GOP’s cultural warrior.

Perhaps the league realized that challenging DeSantis was more trouble than it was worth. But the seriousness of her diversity program is now called into question as she backs away from the loud bully. This is the price of surrender. And if the NHL thinks it has befriended DeSantis, it should think again. Bullies don’t care about having friends, they only care about goals.

Turning to Griffin’s assertion, DeSantis’ spokesperson, that “discrimination of any kind is not welcome in the state of Florida,” one can only assume that this is some kind of sarcastic joke.

DeSantis declared in his second inaugural address on January 3 that “Florida is where the wake-to-die goes.” In fact, Florida is where anti-discrimination initiatives die.

Among the most important are the initiatives aimed at protecting the rights of LGBT people. Last year, DeSantis Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. notified local school officials that they were Free to ignore federal guidance Preventing discrimination in school programs on the basis of gender identity.

“Nothing in these guidance documents requires you to give biological males who identify as females access to bathrooms, locker rooms, or dorms; to assign biological males who identify as females to rooms for females on school field trips; or to allow biological males who identify as females to females to compete on women’s sports teams,” Diaz wrote.

In 2021, DeSantis signed a law banning transgender girls and women in public high schools and colleges from participating in girls’ and women’s sports teams. Last year, Medicaid in Florida stopped covering most gender confirmation care.

Then there’s the Don’t Say Like Me Act (formally known as the Parental Rights to Education Act) that DeSantis signed into law last year.

The law prohibits classroom instruction on sexual and gender identity for students in Kindergarten through the third grade and prohibits “inappropriate for age or developmentally appropriate” instruction for older pupils.

These terms are not defined, which Creates a frightening effect In schools and teachers, because parents are empowered to sue over their grievances and teachers can be subject to revocation of their education certificates.

The Human Rights Campaign, an anti-discrimination watchdog organization, launched the law.Shameful attack on students Already struggling with the weight of discrimination” and a “rushed, mean, impossible to comply law designed to make LGBTQ+ students feel ashamed and isolated at school.”

In fact, DeSantis is an almost perfect illustration of essayist and critic Lionel Trilling’s description of conservative and reactionary impulses. Trilling writes that these do not express themselves in thoughts but only in “Excitable mental gestures which seeks similarity of ideas.

Writing in the immediate post-war period and basing his conclusions on the behavior of Nazi Germany, Trilling warned that “only when a movement has given up having ideas does it turn to force, which is masked by an ideology.”

Indeed, DeSantis has not been shy about backing his ideology by force. Remember his treatment last year at the Special Olympics, which made the mistake of forcing a COVID vaccine mandate on participants at the USA Games in Orlando.

DeSantis didn’t let his appointment as honorary chairman of the Games stop him Special Olympics threatens a record $27.5 million fine to her mandate.

The organization has been at the forefront of groups supporting the vaccine. It states on its website that vaccination is particularly urgent for people with intellectual disabilities, including Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome and autism – the core of the organization’s community of participants – who are are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Despite the threat to the health of the participants and the “professional medical advice” on which its mandate was based, the organization backtracked and lifted the mandate. DeSantis canceled the fineBecause he is such a man.

Then there’s the governor’s highly publicized spat with The Walt Disney Company, Florida’s largest private employer. This erupted after Bob Chapek, then Disney CEO, came out against the “Don’t Say Like Me” law. Chapek remained silent, perhaps hoping the law would go away, until Disney employees called on the company to take a stand.

DeSantis moved to revoke Disney’s quasi-governmental authority over the Walt Disney World website. As it happens, DeSantis’ measure, which won’t go into effect until July of this year, would award Disney An annual tax exemption of $164 million And sticking Orlando-area taxpayers to the bill.

If all of this makes DeSantis’ ostensible fight against discrimination and corporate “wake up,” whatever that means, seem like a mere pause, no kidding.

As he prepared to run for president, DeSantis didn’t shy away Political fundraising Wealthy corporations and individuals, including Duke Energy, the Seminole Tribe (owners of six of Florida’s seven tribal casinos) and billionaire hedge fund Ken Griffin – are all presumably “not awake.” But two Disney lobbyists, the target of DeSantis’ anti-wake campaign, were among the biggest fundraisers for DeSantis’ opening events, The Washington Post reported.

The primary mistake Special Olympics and the NHL made was scheduling their events for Ron DeSantis in Florida. They made themselves fit in the boys skin because of his brand of performative ideology. He doesn’t even claim to have ideas. mere irritations, which he is more than willing to exploit for maximum publicity.

What business organization would put itself in DeSantis’ crosshairs, given that track record? Nobody has any self-respect or cares about principle, that’s for sure.

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