On Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers debuted a new official team hashtag on social media, a change which was an easy call in deference to Oskar Lindblom’s illness.
Before the start of the NHL season, the league released a list of official hashtags for the Philadelphia Flyers and the other 30 clubs to use on Twitter, where they would trigger team-specific emojis. It was meant to be a fun way for fans to officially engage with each other. Most were the typically boring labels you’d expect, such as #GoJetsGo or #LetsGoDucks. Some of them were even more creative, such as #Blackhawks.
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Yes, that really is the official hashtag for talking about the Chicago Blackhawks on social media. Catchy, eh? It was all innocuous stuff.
And really, the Flyers’ given hashtag was pretty harmless too. #FlyorDie. It had the rhyme going for it, and it conveyed the idea of sacrifice for the good of the team. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was fine and unique enough among the other hashtags.
And then Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma last month, at which point the team immediately stopped using it.
As far as I can tell, there was never even any mention that the Flyers would stop and switch to a new hashtag. But that didn’t even need to happen; I think that we all kind of tacitly agreed that that they could put it to bed without issue as #OskarStrong entered the lexicon.
Fans can still use it if they choose to, of course, and many seem to be doing just that. To each their own. Doing so does not automatically indicate malice or “poor taste”.
As we often do with sports, the connotation of #FlyorDie was that the games were literally life and death struggles. But as Lindblom’s diagnosis showed us, the most important battles aren’t on the ice/field/court/whatever surface your sport happens to be played on.
When the Flyers rolled out their new hashtag, #NowOrNever, it seemed much more appropriate for the situation. They took a break for a few weeks after ditching #FlyOrDie and will likely roll with this new one for the rest of the season. I’m sure they even needed to get league approval to do it, which the NHL was smart to allow.
Nobody is to blame for the original hashtag. And there wasn’t really anything wrong with it. It just happened to end up being timed very badly. As society has shown us of late, when something becomes sensitive or somewhat inappropriate, an adjustment can and should be made.
Good on the Flyers for recognizing the situation.
People like me who pay close attention to these kinds of things (often because they have nothing better to do) appreciate the humanity involved in the decision.
So let’s all get on board the #NowOrNever train, as the Flyers hopefully ride it into the playoffs this season.