This week two NHL teams – the San Jose Sharks and the Phoenix Coyotes – join the Columbus Blue Jackets by hosting an LGBT “Night” this March.
Anytime there is one of these events, I always wonder, what will define it as an LGBT event? Will there be any programming related to it? Will there be a benefit to local LGBT organizations? Or is it just a block of tickets sold to a group of people that happen to be gay?
The shining example is still the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. At their event last year, they had a gay chorus sing the national anthem and a gay cheerleading group perform at halftime.
On Tuesday, March 29, the Phoenix Coyotes hosted (and beat in a shootout) the Dallas Stars in an event sponsored by Compete Network. The tickets were offered at a discount, and $5 from each ticket sold went to benefit the organization 1N10, an organization supporting LGBT youth in the Phoenix area.
I’ve been in communication with Compete a bit about the event, and I will try to find out how the event went or if there were any other LGBT-type promotions. But at the least, even hosting an event that gets the LGBT community together to enjoy a sporting event and to raise money for a good organization is valuable.
Next, tomorrow, March 31, the San Jose Sharks will host, again, the Dallas Stars. The Bay Area Reporter, a LGBT publication, writes that the Sharks are sending mixed signals with the event. Ken Arnold, Sharks senior director of communications, called the event “not a big promotion” and “just another group coming to our game, buying a block of tickets to sit with each other.”
But, like the Coyotes event, there was some benefit for the LGBT community. Fans saved on the ticket price (this is customary for all group ticket sales), and more notably, a portion of the sales would go to San Jose Pride and fans will receive a commemorative Sharks LGBT Night beanie.
While these nights are not particularly noteworthy without a more explicit and affirmative stance from the team in support of the LGBT community (especially compared to the Golden State Warriors event), they still are commendable and represent progress.
Lastly, the blog “For boys who like boys who like hockey,” Puck Buddys, has also reported on these events and wants to plan a similar event next year for the Washington Capitals.