Is 'Pride Night' Getting the Boot? NHL Commissioner Gives Major Clue to Woke Gesture's Fate During Interview
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman signaled during an interview this week that his league’s players might no longer be asked to celebrate the sexual preferences of people they don’t even know.
The hockey league’s so-called “Pride Night” initiative this season has gotten a lot of attention over the number of players who do not wish to participate in the LGBT celebration by wearing rainbow jerseys before games.
To some, it’s an issue that goes against their faith. To others, it appears to be about preserving their individualism.
The Atheltic blamed players’ refusal to fall in line on Russia.
But there is no denying many players in the country’s most conservative sports league are not interested in adorning rainbows before clashing on the ice.
Some of them have outright refused to support the LGBT agenda, bringing howls from left-wing fans.
Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers was the first vocal opponent of the gimmick back in January.
After the defenseman decided he just wanted to warm up in peace, he told reporters it was an easy decision and he didn’t wish to discuss it in detail.
“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”
#Flyers Ivan Provorov on his Pride Night pregame boycott :
“My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.” pic.twitter.com/YSFKvkyEJC
— Dan Gelston (@APgelston) January 18, 2023
He was subsequently smeared as a hateful bigot.
It’s not just that Ivan Provorov was a homophobic coward and didn’t warm up in a pride jersey. It’s that bigots feel emboldened by his hatred. It’s that teams are afraid of the exact same issue and so they’re pulling back and doing nothing. It’s heinous. It makes me so sad
— elbow byram (@fourthoverall) January 28, 2023
NHL Pride Night discourse is so toxic and hateful and it’s all Provorov’s fault, get that bigot out of my city
— indra (@mvpbiid) March 24, 2023
Earlier this month, San Jose goalie James Reimer cited his Christian faith for his decision not to wear “pride” gear before the Sharks hosted the New York Islanders.
“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 convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life,” Reimer said in a statement.
A statement from Goaltender, James Reimer: pic.twitter.com/GwhWxhbmb4
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 18, 2023
Last week, a pair of brothers who play for the Florida Panthers, Eric and Marc Staal, took a similar stand before a game against Toronto.
“After many thoughts, prayers and discussions, we have chosen not to wear a pride jersey tonight,” they said in a joint statement. “We carry no judgment 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.”
Eric and Marc Staal statement … pic.twitter.com/EhmVOuXsFa
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 23, 2023
Those who have taken a stand against being made into billboards for a political agenda have endured the wrath of left-wing fans on social media, creating an ugly situation for a league trying to sell the idea that “Hockey is for Everyone.”
A list of the NHL’s admitted homophobes who have refused to don Pride jerseys. Boo these bigots for the rest of their careers:
Eric Staal, Florida Panthers
Marc Staal, Florida Panthers
Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia Flyers
James Reimer, San Jose Sharks
— Boston Bruins Watcher (@WatcherBruins) March 24, 2023
Asking players to show “pride” for something they don’t support — often because of their deeply held religious views — has proved such a major headache for the NHL that Bettman said Monday the league would evaluate the stunt in the offseason.
A reporter with CTV Ottawa noted some players in the league want nothing to do with “Pride Night” and asked the commissioner, “Was it a mistake to let each team dictate how to handle it?”
Bettman signaled the entire sideshow might disappear.
“I think it’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate in the offseason,” he said. “This is one issue where players for a variety of reasons may not feel comfortable wearing the uniform as a form of endorsement.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says players refusing to wear Pride jerseys have become a distraction from the league’s Pride night efforts. https://t.co/n8e62bU5rt
— CTV Ottawa (@ctvottawa) March 27, 2023
The commissioner then admitted the truth, which is “Pride Night” has become a distraction.
“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,” he said.
Sports fans overall tend to lean conservative, but it is especially true for fans of hockey.
If Bettman is a good businessman, he will preserve the league rather than continue to let it go “woke” and suffer the consequences.
People just want to be entertained without having an agenda forced on them. What’s wrong with that?
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