The biggest name in the National Hockey League took his turn speaking out against Russia’s anti-gay law over the weekend, just six months before the Winter Olympics begin in Sochi.
“For me growing up in Canada, my view has always been that way,” Pittsburgh Penguins and Team Canada star Sidney Crosby said at a news conference Sunday. “I think that everyone has an equal right to play and I think we’ve been supportive of that. With the Olympics and the controversy around that I think those decisions and those laws aren’t necessarily something that I agree with personally … their laws and their views.”
Crosby is at least the third NHL player to speak out against the Russian law, which bans “homosexual propaganda.” Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who will play for Sweden in Sochi, called the law “awful, just awful.” His Swedish teammate, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Viktor Hedman, called it “completely wrong.” Crosby, who led Canada to the gold medal in 2010 and remains the NHL’s most recognizable star, is the biggest name to criticize the law so far.
NHL players aren’t the only athletes speaking out, but that those who have been asked are critical of the law isn’t shocking. Canada and Sweden in general both have more progressive views on LGBT issues than Russia, and the NHL and its Players Association have partnered with the You Can Play Project, a group that seeks to rid sports of homophobia, since April of this year. The NHL has long set “the standard for professional sports when it comes to LGBT outreach,” You Can Play co-founder Patrick Burke, the son of former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, said at the time. That the game’s biggest star — and one of the biggest in North American sports — spoke out against the Russian law will both bring more attention to its horrors and exist as another sign that the sports world is finally catching up when it comes to LGBT rights and acceptance.