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NHL Won’t Respond to Player Who Used Homophobic Slur on the Ice

Photo by Matthew McPherson, Staples Center, Lo...

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New York Rangers forward Sean Avery joined the campaign to fight for same-sex marriage in New York this spring, knowing full well he might get blowback from opponents in the NHL.

Two days ago, Philadelphia Flyers player Wayne Simmonds called Sean Avery a “f*cking f*ggot” during an exhibition game. Avery complained to NHL officials, but the officials say they won’t fine Simmonds because “there are conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice,” despite the fact that Simmonds can clearly be seen mouthing the slur on video.

Other professional sports leagues have cracked down on homophobic slurs. When Kobe Bryant used the same slur as Simmonds, the National Basketball Association fined him $100,000. Nearly a third of all Major League Baseball teams have made “It Gets Better” videos to stand up against anti-gay bullying.

The NHL’s inaction is not only a step backward in the fight to end the culture of homophobia in professional sports. It’s also a betrayal of Sean Avery, who represents the very best of how professional athletes can help the fight for gay rights.

If the NHL ignores Simmonds’ slur, that sends a dangerous signal to other hockey players: Don’t bother supporting the LGBT community. Your league won’t have your back if you do.

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