Starting with Ivan Povorov, a growing number of National Hockey League players have refused to wear rainbow “Pride” jerseys for the NHL’s “Pride” nights, citing their Christian faith as the reason for their refusal. Bravely taking a stand on a culture war issue that many others wouldn’t, they put their careers on the line to stand for their religious beliefs.
And they might have won a signal culture ware victory by doing so. That’s because Hockey Patrol is reporting the NHL could discontinue “Pride” nights as a result of their protests, saying:
This season, several NHL players have opted to remain silent in protest against the league’s LGBTQ+ Pride Night celebrations. Players like Ivan Provorov, James Reimer, Marc Staal, Eric Staal, and Ilya Lyubushkin have refused to wear the Pride Night-themed warmup jerseys, which aim to promote inclusivity and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
While players have the right to individually support or oppose the issue, these protests impact the league’s message of inclusiveness. When players opt-out, attention shifts from inclusivity and support for sexual orientation and gender identity to discrimination and intolerance, particularly towards the transgender community. As a result, the NHL is reportedly considering discontinuing these celebrations.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated that when speaking to CTV News in Ottawa on Monday, saying, “This is the first time we’ve experienced that, and I think it’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate in the offseason, This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement. But I think that’s become more of a distraction now because the substance of what our teams and we have been doing and stand for is really being pushed to the side for what is a handful of players basically have made personal decisions, and you have to respect that as well.“
Ivan Provorov began the revolt when he refused to wear the jersey, saying, “Everybody, I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m gonna say. Any type of time I’m going to comment on that. If you have any hockey questions, I would I would answer those…” Watch him here:
Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear a rainbow jersey for warm ups during Pride night stating his Russian Orthodox faith.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”pic.twitter.com/YorVLBbcwY
— OutKick (@Outkick) January 18, 2023
Joining him were NHL players Eric and Marc Staal, who decided to skip a pro-LGBT “Pride Night” event by the Florida Panthers, saying, “After many thoughts, prayers and discussions we have chosen not to wear a pride jersey tonight. We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey. Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs. We hope you can respect this statement, we will not be speaking any further on this matter and would like to continue to focus on the game and helping the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup.”
Also participating in the faith-fueled revolt against Pride night was the San Jose Sharks goalkeeper, James Reimer. He took a similar stance, citing his religious beliefs to explain why he would not participate in this team’s pride event. According to The American Tribune, he said:
“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – Not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Crhist who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me tolove everyone and follow him, I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness.
“In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal conviction which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life. “
Similarly, the Blackhawks ditched the jerseys altogether, as we reported on The American Tribune, saying, “In a decision that is sure to ignite a firestorm of criticism, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks have opted not to wear pride jerseys during warm-ups for Sunday’s so-called Pride Night. The Blackhawks will be the third team that, for various reasons, has either totally opted out or had numerous players decline to wear the rainbow-themed jerseys.”
Featured image credit: screenshot from video of Ivan Provorov
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