NHL to Postpone Playoffs Through Friday

The National Hockey League has been firmly in the corner of enacting change through social justice and they are continuing to put their money where their mouth is.

The league announced today that they will postpone the four Eastern and Western Conference Second Round games through Friday. The shutdown comes in the wake of the murder of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and is being done out of respect for minority communities in this time. The games will resume on Saturday.

The decision came from the NHL players, who “believe that the best course of action would be to take a step back and not play tonight’s and tomorrow’s games as scheduled. The NHL supports the Players’ decision and will reschedule those four games beginning Saturday and will adjust the remainder of the Second Round schedule accordingly.”

The press release put out by the league continued to say that “Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice. We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment. We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.”

The NHL also said that the “NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”

This is a good look for the NHL. The other leagues playing right now, including Major League Baseball (who canceled all games on their slate today) and the NBA are postponing games out of respect for the moment. The NHL should, if they are truly committed to their hashtag of #WeSkateForEquality, postpone these games. Some things are more important than hockey and the NHL understands this.

HBSE Commits to Fight Systemic Racism and Champion Equality

The Devils put out a press release this morning that mentions that Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) will be helping to fight systemic racism and champion equality by committing $20 million towards the cause.

The company, which owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers in addition to the Devils, will be “pledging $10 million over the next five years to drive action and invest in the cities where [their] teams live, work, play and perform.”

Of the $20 million total committed dollars, $10 million will be a contribution from the Sixers “to the NBA’s newly-announced foundation to drive economic empowerment in Black communities.”

Josh Harris, HBSE Founder said: “As leaders and stewards of community pillars, the eyes of the world are on us to do better, and they should be. While we will never be able to correct the past harm and injustice faced by Black Americans, it’s our duty to provide resources that enable tangible action and greater opportunities for equality. We are committing to a fundamental change in our business strategy by embedding our organization with Black communities and businesses through significant and sustained investment and support. We are deeply committed to fighting for a better, more inclusive future and we pledge to be leaders in doing so.”

David Blitzer, HBSE Co-Founder added, “It is crucial for us to take action in fighting against systemic racism and social injustices, which have persisted for far too long. Moving forward, we are making a continued commitment to racial equality as a key focus of our business, advancing institutional and situational change where we live, work, and play. We cannot and will not tolerate racism, injustice or hate, and take responsibility to be a part of the solution for the future of our industry, the cities we serve, and our country as a whole.”

There are key ways that HBSE will be trying to enact this change. Firstly, they will be investing in Black communities, by trying to revitalize the neighborhoods where their teams, as well as fans of those teams, are located. They will be doing this “through partnerships with Black developers, local community groups and officials.”

Secondly, they will use their HBSE Real Estate Community Advancement Program to “advance equitable, community-driven revitalization through significant investments” which include, among other things, a minimum donation of $2.5 million “to organizations and efforts that improve resident quality of life and further equitable development in Black communities (e.g., employment programs, home-buying assistance for long-time residents, public space improvements, youth programming).”

There will also be “consistent capital commitments into real estate projects that advance community priorities in Black neighborhoods, such as affordable housing, health centers, commercial corridor improvements, among others.”

Thirdly, they will be “supporting Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.” HBSE will keep to their entrepreneurial spirit by implementing “new initiatives to support Black-owned businesses with competitive opportunities and marketing resources.”

Through NBSE’s new Buy Black Partnership Program, the Sixers and Devils “will contribute more than $5 million in marketing assets to Black-owned businesses.”

Next, through their new Diversity Procurement Program, HBSE will “increase expenditure with Black-owned businesses.” This includes a partnership with organizations like the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

HBSE will also be promoting education, health and employment by committing $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation to continuing to use their Corporate Responsibility “to support positive education, health, and employment outcomes in Black communities. This commitment builds upon efforts made by HBSE to promote racial equality in Newark, Camden, and Philadelphia.” The Sixers have a practice facility in Camden, New Jersey.

The 76ers will “pledge to provide free internet access to more than 1,000 School District of Philadelphia families.”

As for the Devils, recent donations were made to the Newark Boys & Girls Club and the Urban League of Essex County. These were inspired by PK Subban’s donation of $50,000 to the GoFundMe campaign to help Gionna Floyd, six-year-old daughter of the murdered George Floyd. The NHL matched the donation made by Subban.

HBSE will also be amplifying a workplace of respect, inclusion and diversity. They will be supporting “Black and minority executives entering and ascending in the sports and entertainment industry and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace through recruitment, dynamic partnerships, and programs that provide support and enrichment opportunities for all employees and athletes.”

This end, HBSE will be hiring “a Chief Diversity and Impact Officer to lead internal and external diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives across the organization.” They will also “strengthen HBSE’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and new Black Employee Resource Group with support groups, workshops and a speaker series to foster continued race-based education, empathy, and mindfulness within our organizational culture.”

They will also “focus on new recruitment, retention and career advancement programs to increase the representation of Black and minority employees across HBSE.”

Additionally, the organization will “partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to connect graduating college seniors with career pipelines and exposure at HBSE.”

In my opinion, this is great news and helps show that the Devils and Sixers’ ownership group is trying to be proactive in helping to make change throughout their cities and business through both monetary donations as well as education and hiring practices.