OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov got a surprise this week after he refused to take part in a “Pride” event ahead of a game earlier in the week against the Anaheim Ducks.
Citing his Russian Orthodox religion, which is a form of Christianity — and without fanfare or elaboration — Provorov explained to reporters after the game that he chose not to participate in a show of support for the “LGBTQ+ community” due to his religious beliefs and convictions.
A pregame skate included players donning Pride-themed jerseys displaying their names in rainbow colors while holding hockey sticks that were wrapped in rainbow-colored tape.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” Provorov told reporters following the game while explaining no further.
When pressed, he insisted, “That’s all I’m gonna comment on that. If you have any hockey questions, I would answer those.”
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov on refusing to wear a rainbow jersey for warm ups during “Pride Night” due to his Russian Orthodox faith.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 18, 2023
Following the exchange and according to Outkick, as of Thursday morning, “Provy’s” number 9 men’s jersey was nearly sold out on both the NHL fan shop and Fanatics, with only the XS size available at the time.
Later, Flyers head coach John Tortorella defended Provorov’s decision to do what he chose to do.
“He’s being true to himself and to his religion. … It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” Tortorella said.
Flyers head coach John Tortorella defended Provy and refused to bench him tonight:
“He’s being true to himself.”
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 18, 2023
Several in the sports media, however, blasted Provorov for his stance, with one — Breakfast Television’s Sid Seixeiro — even suggesting that the Flyers should be fined as much as $1 million for his action.
“The theme from the National Hockey League is that hockey is for everyone, ok? The theme isn’t hockey is for everyone dot, dot, dot unless you don’t believe in gay rights, then do whatever you want,” Seixeiro added. “If the National Hockey League is going to do this, if any league is going to do this, do it properly or reevaluate what you’re doing because there’s not a lot of repercussions that I’m seeing from any league.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov didn’t take part in the NHL’s “Hockey Is For Everyone” pregame warmups – where players wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape – citing his religion as the reason. @sid_seixeiro shares his thoughts ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/8c7XnP2FYJ
— Breakfast Television (@breakfasttv) January 18, 2023
“The National Hockey League needs to attack this and figure this out because what I heard last night was offensive and didn’t make any sense,” he went on to say. “Nothing scares me more than any human being who says I’m not doing this because of my religious beliefs. Because when you look at people’s lives who normally say that publicly, you’d throw up at what you saw. You would throw up at what you saw. And I’ve seen that a million times in a lot of different ways. So don’t give me that. With respect, don’t gimme that, because no one’s perfect. Don’t feed me the religious beliefs line and all of a sudden the NHL is going to back off this.”
“Ivan Provorov was allowed to play in a game for the Philadelphia Flyers – the organization that was the first to say that you will be removed from the arena if you utter a homophobic slur – after refusing to wear a Pride logo for warm ups,” SB Nation NHL Editorial Director Steph Driver tweeted. “What an absolute disgrace.”
Ivan Provorov was allowed to play in a game for the Philadelphia Flyers – the organization that was the first to say that you will be removed from the arena if you utter a homophobic slur – after refusing to wear a Pride logo for warm ups.
What an absolute disgrace.
— Steph Driver (@StephaliciousD) January 18, 2023
Fox News added:
Other users, however, ripped the critics.
“You’re mad because you want to force someone to wear something he doesn’t want to wear. If you look throughout history, the good guys never made those demands. Stalin and Mao would be proud,” one user said in response to Driver.
“The cancelling is weak in this one,” said another.
“Please shut up,” added another user.
“Not wearing a jersey IS NOT a slur of ANY KIND! Why not be tolerant of his beliefs. You’re tolerant of everyone else’s. Or does freedom of religion not apply when it comes to the LGBTQ agenda?” another user added.
A user responded to that comment with some snark: “Your problem is you don’t know the new definition of tolerance. Tolerance no longer means silent grace, tolerance means vociferous affirmation of a progressive project. And by the way, it’s not a two way street.”