On Friday, Oct. 19, the National Hockey League will join millions of Americans in "going purple" for Spirit Day, to stand out against bullying and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. In the observance of Spirit Day, the League is joining the social campaign to promote awareness of the challenges faced in the LGBT community.
A number of NHL teams will take part, among them the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils, who have changed their Twitter and Facebook logos and backgrounds from their traditional colors to purple. The Philadelphia Flyers have a story on Spirit Day that features a purple background. And the Vancouver Canucks will bathe their home, Rogers Arena, in purple spotlights.
The effort to "go purple" started in 2010 as a response to the young people who had committed suicide in response to extreme bullying. Last year, millions of Americans donned the color to show their support for the cause, including Ellen DeGeneres, Goldie Hawn, Conan O'Brien, and the casts of several TV shows, including "Good Morning America" and "Jersey Shore." This year's official Spirit Day ambassadors include basketball great Shaquille O'Neal, TV personality Maria Menounos, and actor George Takei.
"You talk to people who are older, they tend to look at bullying in a different light. They see it as lighthearted. It's different now," said Patrick Burke, a Flyers scout and president of the You Can Play initiative who is actively participating in Spirit Day. "[In the past] if you wanted to insult somebody, you had to say it to their face and there were repercussions. With online bullying, you can slander people and not have to look at them. That makes people willing to say things they wouldn't say with the person in the room. It's something that needs to end."
While Spirit Day will be observed in schools, offices and communities across the country, anyone can get involved to stand up against bullying. Other than wearing purple, participants are encouraged to change their Twitter and Facebook avatars to observe the day as well as post photos of themselves wearing purple. A variety of other Spirit Day ideas can be found at www.glaad.org/spiritday.