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Flyers Defenseman Refuses to Wear Pregame Pride Jersey

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There was some controversy last night in Philadelphia, as the Flyers held a Pride Night promotion. As is typical for such events in the NHL, the team’s pregame skate featured rainbow-themed warm-up jerseys and rainbow-patterned stick tape, with the jerseys and sticks slated to be auctioned off for charity. But defenseman Ivan Provorov chose to skip the pregame activities, citing his Russian Orthodox religious beliefs. (He later played 22 minutes in Philly’s 5-2 win over the Ducks.)

Here’s a clearer view of what the jerseys looked like:

Speaking after the game, Provorov said, “I respect everyone. I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”

That appeared to be good enough for Flyers head coach John Tortorella, who said, “With Provy, he’s being true to himself and to his religion. This has to do with his belief and his religion. It’s one thing I respect about Provy: He’s always true to himself. That’s where we’re at with that.”

In response to the situation, the Flyers issued a statement that was really more of a non-statement, as it didn’t directly address Provorov:

The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.

The NHL routinely restricts “message” uniforms to pregame activities. It’s not clear whether Provorov would have been a healthy scratch if the uniforms had been worn in the game itself.

This is at least the third time in the past seven months that an athlete has refused to wear team-issued Pride attire. Last June, five Tampa Bay Rays players opted out of the team’s on-field pride uni, citing religious concerns. The following month, Jaelene Daniels of the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage sat out a game rather than wear the team’s Pride jersey, also for religious reasons. (Are there other recent examples I’m overlooking?)

In the Rays’ case, the team had specifically made the Pride uniforms optional. Last night’s Flyers gear was effectively optional as well, since Provorov faced no sanction for skipping the pregame skate.

The Rays situation led me to write a Premium article about whether cultural messaging uniforms should always be optional. Since that article is paywalled, I’ll reproduce the key section here:

[Rays pitcher Jason] Adam, speaking for the group [of non-rainbow-clad players] after the game, said the players’ decision was rooted in their religious beliefs:

“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision. So it’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different.”

As you might expect, that explanation has been controversial on several fronts. But I’m not interested in assessing the Pride movement or the actions of the non-participating Tampa Bay players — there are other forums for that. Instead, I want to talk about the team’s decision to make the rainbow uniform elements optional.

How might things unfold if that same opt-out provision were available in other situations involving special uniform promotions? For example, there are several Muslim players in the NBA. Back in 2012 through 2016, when NBA teams routinely wore Christmas-themed uniforms on Dec. 25, imagine if a few of those Muslim players chose not to wear those uniforms and said, “A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision. What we want is them to know that all Christians are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, we decided that it’s not something we want to be a part of.”

Even if you take religion out of the equation, it’s not hard to envision other situations where players might opt out of wearing a given uniform element while giving an explanation similar to what the Rays players said. Here are some message-based uniforms we’ve seen in recent years, along with some reasons a player might have for not wearing them:

  • Camouflage: “I have some issues with U.S. military policy. Service members and veterans are always welcome in my community and my life, but when it comes to putting it on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”
  • Stars/stripes: “I’m a proud, patriotic Venezuelan. I love playing here in America, and I love and support my American teammates and fans, but when it comes to putting the American flag on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”
  • BLM: “Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization. Black people are welcome and loved here, but when it comes to putting those initials on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”
  • Spanish-language jerseys: “This is America — we speak English here. Wearing Spanish-language jerseys just normalizes the trend of immigrants not assimilating into our culture. Hard-working immigrants who come here legally and learn our culture are welcome and loved here, but when it comes to wearing their language on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”
  • Jim Kaat number-retirement patch: “Jim Kaat made an offensive remark on the air last fall and then made another one this season. I respect what he accomplished as a ballplayer, but when it comes to honoring him on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”
  • Green for Earth Day: “Earth Day was created by tree-hugger hippies, and now those are the same people pushing the climate change hoax. Don’t get me wrong, I love the great outdoors — in fact, I’m going hunting this weekend — but when it comes to repping Earth Day on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”
  • Green ribbons for mental health awareness: “I was always taught that if you’re feeling sad or facing challenges, you should man up and tough it out. Instead, everyone’s getting too soft nowadays. I have nothing against people with mental illness — I wish them well — but when it comes to pushing ‘awareness’ on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”
  • New York City first-responder caps for 9/11 remembrance: “The NYPD has a long record of harassing minority communities, and the FDNY has a well-documented history of racism. That’s not to say every cop or firefighter is a bad person — most of them are good public servants, and I respect the brave work that they do — but when it comes to wearing those departmental logos on my body, that’s not something I want to do.”

And so on. Some of those hypothetical scenarios may seem ridiculous, but many people think the Rays’ non-rainbow players were being ridiculous too. That’s what happens when you make uniform messaging optional: You open the door to all sorts of counter-messages.

———

So that’s what I wrote last summer. I’ll let it speak for me today as well.

Let’s try to keep today’s discussion focused on uniforms, okay? Thanks.

 

Too Good for the Ticker

Reader Derek Linn recently came across this really sensational 1970s Purdue letterhead — or should we call it letterside? In any case, the sentiments expressed in the letter haven’t aged well, but the stationery design certainly has!

From the Field to the Fairway

Reader Ian Wright recently hepped me to a guy who makes golf club head covers out of jerseys! I’ve interviewed the guy for this week’s Premium article on Substack. Fascinating stuff!

You can get this article in your in-box tomorrow morning, and also get access to my full Substack/Bulletin archives, by becoming a Premium subscriber, which I hope you’ll consider doing. Thanks!

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Comments (90)

    It seems to me a lot of fans already hold very strong opinions about whether and how players should participate in collective political messaging, so they should just apply their existing stance on the national anthem to uniforms. Personally, I’m cool with athletes declining to sing or stand for the national anthem, so for consistency’s sake I’m cool with athletes declining to wear pride or camo or whatever uniforms. Even if, as is often the case, I would have chosen otherwise in their place.

    Conversely, anyone who has ever demanded that all players participate fully in the anthem ceremony ought to demand that every player wear the darn pride jersey no matter their personal preferences.

    And with advertising creeping onto most major US league uniforms, I’d love to see political or social pushback by players. Heck, the governor of Virginia just declared the Ford Motor Company to be an agent of the Chinese Communist Party because it does business in China, so let’s have rightwing pro athletes refuse to wear jerseys with ads for companies that do business in or with China. Like [checks notes] basically every company that currently has an ad on any pro uniform in the United States.

    You can tell when someone is missing the point when they think this is a left/right issue…

    Who are “we” to tell others how to live and express (or not express) themselves?

    Live and let live goes a looong way

    Agreed. I have learned never to underestimate a person’s capacity to be triggered but what might seem innocuous to most.

    Excellent and thought-provoking article. The section about hypothetical scenarios where a player might refuse to wear a uniform element was absolutely first-class material.

    My not-particularly-groundbreaking opinion is that teams should probably just stay away from this sort of thing altogether. Whenever you push any kind of agenda – no matter how well-intentioned you are – you risk losing fans who don’t agree with that particular agenda. Even from a strictly economic standpoint, why would you want to do that? I understand that it’s impossible to offend nobody, but I think common sense dictates that, if you’re running a business (which sports teams ultimately are), you should probably make an effort to offend as few people as possible. And the easiest way to do that is to not align yourself with causes that aren’t directly related to your business/sport.

    But, its not though. If there are no messages, there are no messages. Play the sport. That is why we are here . for the entertainment. that’s it. Not some messages which half agree with and half do not.

    In our current times, everybody seems to be walking around angry, looking to be provoked by slights, both real and imagined. So here is an alternative thought through the prism of athletics aesthetics: stop using the uniforms of sports teams for purposes other than to identify one team from another in a competition. Instead of trying to pander to everyone, eliminate all the confounders. No more camo, no rainbows, no S&S, no ethnic pride nights, no theme nights, no advertising. Special dispensation for teams that want to honor their history with throwbacks but while we are at it, let’s stop the sports-as-fashion-show nonsense and go back to home, away, one alternate in team colors (or primary, secondary and clash uniforms). If you are getting your politics or forming your opinions on social issues from your favorite sports team, or if that is your vehicle for self-expression (for or against the given issue), don’t you have to wonder why that came to be?

    I agree.
    A couple anecdotal examples:
    1. I’m a straight white male in my 40s. I am pretty much as non-minority as you can get, except I’m left handed, so I’ve always felt a kinship to left-handed players. But I’ve never decided to root for a team because they had “Lefty Night” or some similarly named cheap theme night. My opinion, if you’re saying “Left handers are no different than the rest of us” put one at an infield position. My whole baseball life was restricted to 5 of 9 positions, a theme night does nothing to make those kids feel included.
    2. One of my good friends has a pretty conservative point of view on life. These theme nights infuriate him. So if anything it adds to the divide between the people looking for acceptance and those who do not accept them.

    Fellow cisgender hetero white guy in his 40s. To your point, there are people who discriminate against others for all kinds of reasons. Diversity and inclusion nights may infuriate them to a degree, but if anything, they will double down on their worldview, because now they see “those people” as getting “their special night” but they (probably members of the majority) don’t get their night. It is the same phony gripe we hear every February because there’s a Black History Month but not a White History Month, or that All Lives Matter (and not Black Lives Matter). These people almost willingly miss the point and cannot see things from the perspective of the marginalized. These efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, will not get people to have an epiphany and become more tolerant. It just stokes their anger, which is their own issue to sort out. Trying to argue with a zealot never works.

    That letter looks really cool, even if the content is not. It is almost impossible to comment on a themed uniform but not on the message behind that uniform (which I personally do endorse) but I will try it: nice warm up shirt, the digits keep reminding me of the Denver Nuggets. As people promoting Peace in general also wear rainbow flags (with peace signs, doves or the word peace in any language) we might need a new flag or symbol for one of these communities.

    AA is the initials of the letter’s author, who most likely dictated it to someone with the initials WR, who typed the letter. I’m old enough to remember business correspondence like this.

    “I’m old enough to remember business correspondence like this”

    You don’t have to be very old because its still a thing. I did it this morning

    Back in the olden times when a secretary or intern typed the letters to be sent out, there would often be a footnote of the author’s initials in caps (AA: Alex Agaee) and whoever actually typed the letter in lower case initials (wr)

    Those Flyers warm-up jerseys look awful. Trying to use the entire color palette rarely works. Seeing those, it’s all the more impressive how well designed the mid-80s rainbow jerseys are of the Denver Nuggets.

    They really were, I am the proud owner of a white and green Nuggets jersey with number 2: Alex English. Really well designed graphics.

    Agree.
    They would not have even have made decent ¨Farewell to the Spectrum¨ sweaters.

    Bet Mike Quick would have liked to have received jersey golf club head covers to go with his golf bag parting gift from Norman Braman…clubs not included!

    I thought you were going to include something about jersey patches, naming rights to stadiums and the companies that buy them in your thoughts here. One reader comment included it briefly. An oil company (er, uh, uh, er…an energy company) just bought the naming rights to the Houston soccer team’s stadium this week. What if the players refused to play in that stadium or they bought the jersey patch instead and the players refused to wear their uniform/billboard. They could say that they had an issue with the deal because they care about animals and the ocean and this oil company has exhibited poor behavior in that regard with off shore drilling and the like. Houston’s general population may be more tolerant of the deal because many people in the area are employed by oil companies and/or oil company adjacent type jobs. But most, if not all, of the players do not come from Houston. They bring with them views that may conflict with the team selling that sponsorship and the tolerance of the people who pay to watch them play. Should they just “shut up and play” as many like to say these days? There have been some issues, where the tolerance of the local population was tested and it ultimately prevailed. The original deal for the Jets/Giants stadium name was close to being sold to Allianz, a company with ties to supporting Nazi-Germany. There’s a rather large Jewish population in the NYC area who raised loud concerns and that volume ultimately led the owners of both teams to reconsider.

    I think it’s inevitable that a company is going to buy a jersey patch and a player/group of players on that team will have some issue with the behavior of that company. When it’s the dollar of the team (and ultimately the owner’s bank account) that is threatened, then we’ll see how lenient the teams will be in providing an easy off ramp to the players who don’t want to participate for “religious” reasons.

    The scenario about a player declining to wear a company’s ad on their uniform has happened quite often overseas. It’s mostly due to religious reasons. As far as I know, the advertiser and the club are usually pretty understanding about it. The player will have a regular jersey with the ad either removed or covered up.
    I’ve also seen where a soccer team will have a gambling company’s ad on their jersey, but will remove it when they travel to a country whose religion does not allow gambling.
    There’s quite a few articles available when you search the topic.

    The “cultural messaging uniforms” are just as political and economic in nature. I applaud any athlete that can read through the BS.

    Do these awareness uniforms accomplish anything? Our country seems obsessed with “awareness” to a maddening degree. Awareness is just silliness for the most part; an excuse to avoid actual action. But if you’re going to roll out pointless awareness uniforms, I’m not sure if it’s best to force players to wear them or not. Truly don’t know. The whole thing seems silly to me, and the uniforms almost always look awful.

    I agree with you but just want to point out that occasionally the special jerseys are auctioned off and donated to charity. Whether that in turn actually accomplished anything is up for debate but I think if there are people who like the jerseys enough to buy them then I guess they can also feel good about donating to a cause?

    Fair point. I don’t have strong feelings on the politics of it. Speaking Aesthetically, I’d say just wear the normal uniforms, or a “non awareness” alternate that’s fun and compelling. Then auction those off for charity. Mission accomplished, and no need for ugly LGTBQ or camouflage or pink cancer uniforms.

    Looking at an online source, there are well over 100 days each year devoted to LGBTQ awareness of some sort. I agree, this well beyond awareness at this point.

    One thing this brings up is that I honestly love that the NHL does many “special” warmups, but doesn’t try to make game unis out of them. I wish baseball would do the same, and really make batting practice more of a fan’s event again.

    Worth noting – Nemanja Matic refused to wear the poppy for Remembrance Day because of how Serbia was bombed during his childhood. James McClean has also refused to wear one for how the British forces treated the Irish.

    It’s so disheartening how much ignorance and intolerance in this world is justified by “religious beliefs.”

    It’s so disheartening how much ignorance and intolerance in this world is justified by downplaying one’s “religious beliefs.”

    That’s enough from both sides. If you have constructive observations or arguments to make about uniforms, make them. If you want to talk about non-uni topics or insult each other, please do that somewhere else.

    Thanks.

    Dave —
    I encourage you to research further the teachings and beliefs of the Orthodox Church.

    As for Provorov, the choice as a player to decline was only a matter of time. I’m surprised such pushback — given the many Eastern European players in the league — hasn’t happened sooner.

    Regardless, social messaging on uniforms creates problems. Keep it simple, leagues. Remember what you are. Unify, don’t divide.
    -C.

    Can you imagine the outrage the same people that support Provorov on this would have if he (or any other athlete for that matter) skipped out on a military/America propaganda night? They be sending death threats and asking for him to be waived from the team.

    Can you imagine the outrage the same people that support kneeling for the anthem would have when a player doesn’t wear the LGBT patch? And on and on we go… the reality is that most people’s opinions on these things are less about having a consistent stance for all player choices with political messaging and more about how they feel about a particular issue.

    People lost it when Carlos Delgado didn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Except it isn’t his national anthem and if I remember correctly, he was playing in Canada at the time…

    Actually, Delgado chose not to stand for “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch — so it wasn’t “his anthem” or anyone else’s.

    Let’s please stick to facts. Thanks.

    Sorry, I misremembered, as I fully acknowledged at the outset. I wasn’t trying to be incendiary.
    I know this is a tense subject and you have to referee this, but there’s no need to be brusque about it.

    The political and social cause uniforms should be dropped, period. They’re freaking athletes… they shouldn’t be forced to wear a uniform that pushes a political agenda regardless of whether their motivation is religious or otherwise.

    What if team management tried to dress their players in “Unborn Lives Matter” or “Protect the Second Amendment” uniforms? Would left-leaning players be expected to wear these and keep their mouths shut or face the scorn of teammates, fans or media as outcasts? Of course not.

    It’s ridiculous and it’s time for it to end now.

    Congratulations Ivan Provorov, who understands he’s a professional athlete and not a social justice warrior. And the same goes for the others as well.

    I don’t see it as a political agenda, I’m kinda sad you do. I see it as saying everyone is welcome regardless of sexual orientation/identification and that the host team is inclusive of a group of people that have been (currently still are in this case) discriminated against or worse.

    That being said, I have no qualms with an athlete opting not to participate. I don’t agree with his religious views but thankfully we live in a country that’s able to have our own opinions, for now anyway.

    No, they’re not. Read Julie’s comment below. Look at what’s going on in Florida or other red states.

    I’m relatively nonplussed wrt political messaging on jerseys, but I’m also more or less a uni traditionalist so I don’t care for schemes to make a franchise more interesting by altering its standard set. As Paul has said many-a-time, a uniform is supposed to be uniform, so I like it to be consistent head-to-toe and across an entire season.

    As a side note, I’m a retired military guy, and I’ve never like the military appreciation uni sets. It always smacked of marketing and, to me, it feels manipulative by playing on a fan’s natural good will toward his or her team.

    The actual question is why did Provorov get “religion” this year and refused to wear the sweater for warmups when he has not objected for any of the past six seasons when he wore the annual pride day warm up sweater. “Provorov is true to himself” except when he’s “not”.
    Some people believe it is related to this being the first year Flyers Pride Day occurred after his home country invaded another country and he is showing his support for that invasion, much like Ovechkin has.

    The actual question is why did Provorov get “religion” this year and refused to wear the sweater for warmups when he has not objected for any of the past six seasons when he wore the annual pride day warm up sweater.

    Actually, according to this article (link): “This is not the first time the Flyers have held Pride Night celebrations, but it was the first time the team wore Pride-themed warmup jerseys. Last season, there was an option to tape their sticks with rainbow tape, and various players sported Pride-themed Flyers T-shirts before and after the game.”

    Let’s please stick to facts and not engage in “some people think” speculation or false assertions. Thanks.

    Provorov did not participate in any of the optional Pride Night elements in previous years. He has participated in other charity themed events, but not those.

    These comments are giving a whole lot of privilege. It shows most of you never have to live in fear of being discriminated against. I can’t even go to a bar and watch a performance without fear of some maniac coming in to shoot up the place because of who I am as a human being. I can’t walk down the street holding my wife’s hand without that thought in my head of “who may see us and come after us.”

    A sports team giving a community one night to feel comfortable, to have fun and to say “you’re welcome here.” That’s what these night are for. That’s what the hats, jersey’s, etc. are for. You matter, you are welcome here.

    My heart truly goes out to you and any marginalized group who deals with not merely discrimination but outright fear for being who they are. At the same time, it is sad that a hat or jersey or special night is what is required for anyone to feel welcome. Sports teams are billion-dollar enterprises and this is done as a performative gesture rooted as much in crass consumerism to tap into new markets and revenue streams as anything else. No team would want to turn away any paying customer willing to buy beer, hats and jerseys.
    You should be welcome wherever, whenever. But the world is full of close-minded, bigoted people who pay the same price for the same tickets to watch the same game. You’re not going to change their minds by draping a stadium in rainbow bunting one night a year. The World Cup is a prime example – the hosts’ belief system doesn’t mesh well with more tolerant views which have developed over the last few decades in parts of the world. (Western society wasn’t this relatively tolerant toward LGBTQ or minorities even a century ago, so let’s not act like this newfound tolerance is hardwired into our DNA.) The solution is not to force views with which they disagree down their throats; the solution is to not give them the competition in the first place. Want to be bigoted, let the world speak with their wallets.

    “That’s what happens when you make uniform messaging optional: You open the door to all sorts of counter-messages.”

    Is the optional nature the problem? I would suspect many of these wealthy players would be willing to pay a fine to make their point as well, if it came to it.

    The issue is uniforms being used for messaging, period.

    Paul,

    I watch a lot of Australian sports, especially the National Rugby League. My favorite team is the Manly Sea Eagles. Last season, the club introduced a Pride Jersey that replaced the regular white hoop stripes with rainbow hoop stripes. Seven players with Pacific Island backgrounds refused to play in the game due to their religious beliefs. Obviously, playing with junior graders, Manly lost the game. However, the fallout from the jersey situation was a fiasco.

    1. The team proceeded to lose their remaining games.
    2. The popular head coach was fired.
    3. Two of the three best players on the team were uncertain of staying with the team.

    link

    Though the team didn’t back down from the pride round which lots of people called on them to do and said that they would continue having a pride round

    I wonder if this has happened at the minor league level. Usually a lot less power and leeway for them. As far as collegiate level, I’d have no idea if a player (especially star one) would have more or less power and leeway than at minor league (Don’t pay attention to U.S. college sports for the most part, and am not aware of their current politics either)

    There was the case of Marko Lokar, an Italian who played for Seton Hall in the early ’90s. Lokar refused to wear the American flag patch that so many colleges were quickly stitching onto their jerseys during the Gulf War. He cited his Catholic pacifist beliefs. He was booed by by Seton Hall and opponents’ fans, his pregnant wife absorbed telephone death threats, and Lokar ended up leaving Seton Hall and returning to Italy.

    I personally wish we would just let everyone do what they feel is right, and not judge them for it. If you don’t want to wear a Pride based uniform? Ok, don’t. If you don’t feel comfortable standing for the anthem? Ok, don’t. We live in a free country. You should respect everyone’s rights. Slim chance of that happening, I know.

    “awareness”? Isn’t everyone in the world is aware of this stuff already? Isn’t it literally everywhere, not just sports? But the thing with sports is, you get A LOT of eyeballs on your message, for a long period of time, for very little cost – in this case ZERO cost. What I don’t get it is, if you’re giving away valuable ad space, why are these things – specifically this thing – the priority over, and supersede, issues like child abuse/hunger/trafficking, famine, cancer, war, or any other horrors of our times?

    In July in the NRL in Australia seven players from Manly-Warringah sat out of their team’s match against Sydney due to a pride jersey that Manly-Warringah decided to wear

    additionally in the AFL Women’s competition in Australia Greater Western Syndey player Haneen Zreika sat out of her teams pride round match due to the teams pride jumper going against her religious beliefs

    I’m not sure when “equality” became a political statement that was capable of generating so much anxiety.

    I’m most familiar with hockey, which has a terrible history of racism and homophobia. Brian Burke (former Leafs GM among other roles) has pioneered a program to make the sport more inclusive.

    link

    The message for years, within the sport, is that hockey is for straight white dudes. “Hockey is for everyone” is an incredible message. I completely fail to understand why Provoros’ religion prohibits inclusivity, or how “Hockey is for everyone” is a political statement.

    Anyway, as one commenter above said, this entire comment section reeks of privilege. Hockey has been the domain of straight white guys for 100 years, and the slightest whiff of “hey maybe the sport should reach out to everyone” is setting everyone off. If anything, this is demonstrating why projects like You Can Play are desperately needed.

    Following on my comment…

    What happens when the Flyers sign a gay or bisexual player. Are they supposed to stay in the closet because Provorov has religious objections to homosexuality? Are they allowed to bring their partner to team events?

    In respect to your request to stick to commenting about uniforms, please remove the comment above. It is political in nature without referencing uniforms, as is Kevin M’s reply further above at 1:08PM Wednesday.

    Restricting my comments only to the uniform component, I have an issue with a team member opting out of a team-related action, which is exactly what a uniform is. In my opinion, as a teammate, you are obligated to wear the team’s uniform. If you don’t like it, go play an individual sport.

    Along the same lines, making a uniform element optional just cheapens the entire uniform package, just as socks, stirrups, shoes, etc., are treated as accessories rather than part of a team’s visual package.

    To bring a little levity to the topic, be it this, or people not standing for the anthem, at this point it just makes me think of that Seinfeld episode. “Who? Who doesn’t want to wear the ribbon?!?”

    So Torts blew a gasket when the issue of not standing for the National Anthem came up (not even sure any of his players were not standing, I think he was reacting to the NFL – but I might be wrong), but he is Mr. I Respect His Decision when it comes to this? He does not seem to have mellowed based on his coaching and media relations… hmmmmmmmmm.

    Many of the comments here – especially on a website devoted to a niche minutiae where you would expect readers to have an open mind about people different than themselves – demonstrate why even simple things like a pride night are still important.

    As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it bothers me that we’re the only cause that’s really optional. Like Paul said today and his Substack article this summer, if one of them is optional, then all of them should be. Or you could make it none are optional. I know some people would think this a bit extreme, but I think everything, advertisers and theme night stuff should be optional. But we all know that won’t ever happen because the sponsors pay the teams millions of ad patches, and the DoD pays the league millions of taxpayer dollars for their camo GI Joe displays every year, so we (LGBTQ+ people) are left out and on a lower rung like always.

    I see no problems with any of the messaging described in the article, except where hypocrisy comes into play. As well, I have no problem at all with anyone abstaining for any reason as long as such reasons don’t cross into hate-adjacent speech themselves.

    Just speaking as an avid sports fan and a member of the LGBT+ community, it just feels disappointing when these situations happen. Like, we never asked for a pride night, (and let’s be honest if it’s not part of the team’s branding the rainbow is usually a bit much) but it’s a nice-to-have in a world that a lot of the time feels like it’s “not for us”. Players can obviously do, say, and ultimately wear whatever they want, but it just stands out when a team is like “all are welcome” and a single player isn’t visibly participating in the message.

    Maybe instead of doing away with these themed nights all-together, just make an effort to communicate with your team about what -they’re- comfortable with before just making a thing we even have to discuss. If somebody’s not comfortable with the messaging just don’t make an announcement and then some gaudy uniforms.

    Now if the Denver Nuggets turn a throwback night into a pride night and a player opts-out, then we can berate them guilt-free.

    To me, the larger issue is how someone looks at sports in general. Is sports an escape from what goes on everywhere else or is it a metaphor for what goes on everywhere else. If an escape, the sentiment seems to be “Let’s just play the game and leave social issues outside the arena.” if a metaphor, the sentiment seems to be “We can use sports to raise awareness of (fill in the blank) issue.”

    He has his right to exercise his beliefs, I have my right to call him an @sshole.

    That being said, his play (along with most of the Flyers’ roster) is deserving of a full rebuild. Time to rip off the band-aid…

    Excellent and thought-provoking article. The section about hypothetical scenarios where a player might refuse to wear a uniform element was absolutely first-class material.

    My not-particularly-groundbreaking opinion is that teams should probably just stay away from this sort of thing altogether. Whenever you push any kind of agenda – no matter how well-intentioned you are – you risk losing fans who don’t agree with that particular agenda. Even from a strictly economic standpoint, why would you want to do that? I understand that it’s impossible to offend nobody, but I think common sense dictates that, if you’re running a business (which sports teams ultimately are), you should probably make an effort to offend as few people as possible. And the easiest way to do that is to not align yourself with causes that aren’t directly related to your business/sport.

    WARNING: Serious post ahead with alot of thought behind it.

    Here’s a question for everyone. Has anyone anti-gay asked a gay person if that’s the life they “choose” and why they “chose” it?

    Think back to your childhood. Really think about it. You’re a 9, 10, or 12 year old boy. Did you sit there and consciously think “Hmmm, am I going to like boys or girls?” Did ‘liking’ the other sex that way even enter your mind?

    Of course it didn’t. Just the same as a gay person. you might like a blond girl or a brunette girl, but you never considered liking a boy that way. That’s not how your wired.

    Gay people don’t choose their sexual orientation. No one chooses the road less traveled and a life of hardship dealing with peers who don;t understand… it’s not a choice. (maybe for some celebrity as a publicity stunt but for 99.99% of the population there is not choice, its genetics. The genes decide, those same genes God created you with.

    I had no opinion on the matter my entire life… (sigh)… until it hits close to home. And after talking to my daughter for 10 minutes you realize it wasn’t a decision at all.

    Someday I’ll be long gone before her. And who knows whats in store, if anything, on the other side. But when her time has come, I’ll be waiting for her at the gates…. And if she is turned away, I’m walking out hand in hand with my beautiful girl to whatever may lie ahead, because that heaven is not a place I want to be.

    Well said. And I am going to try and say this without denigrating the other side, but since a lot of people are choosing to cloak their ignorance in faith, as if it is a shield to deflect responsibility or criticism, I lay much of the blame on religious leaders not trying to modify their messaging to their flocks. Your point about being hardwired is something that has only been acknowledged by the scientific community in the last few years, that it is not a choice who you love any more than is the color of your skin. But many people live their lives based on a code of conduct that originated centuries or millennia ago, and never saw fit to evolve with technology and advances in science. Given that the Catholic church took 500 years to apologizes to a heretic for daring to state that the earth revolved around the sun, it is saddening to think that the religious leaders giving cover to these thought patterns see no reason to familiarize themselves with all that science has revealed since their great books were written.

    No disrespect to the Flyers (and other NHL teams) for hosting a Pride Night, Faith Night, Irish Night, Grateful Dead Night, etc… but it seems special jerseys are worn for select events and not all.
    I don’t like all these alternates…save these one-off warmups/sweaters and the auctions for the minor leagues.

    I respect the players’ decisions not to wear pride jerseys, as I would respect a Muslim or Jew not to wear an NBA Christmas jersey, or someone to opt out of a camo/stars n stripes helmets. Unfortunately we know in all instances, there will be some backlash from opposing viewpoints. Not to mention, it goes against the common sense of uni-forms.
    So I guess unfortunately in this day and age in America, we’re so diverse, we can’t have fun with uniforms because of differences of opinions (right or left). Thus teams should just stick with home/away/alternates and non-offensive themes.
    Looking forward to the day when cat lovers opt out of “bark at the park” dog-night uniforms. And then they change the theme to “pet-night”

    Hey, if it all means standards come back to NFL socks, cleats and gloves, I’m all for returning to the basics/no fun league.

    Hi so.. maybe it’s just me. I grew up with a picture in my head of a hockey player. He was wearing team colours, had his stick, helmet…etc. you get the picture. It’s necessary for him to wear his UNI-form when playing his sport. Try not wearing your cup or helmet next time you’re out there, let me know how it goes. I guess what I’m saying is, fans come for the game of hockey, the rest have been unfortunate add-ons, can we go back to plain old hockey please?
    By asking all players to “conform it or else” we basically encourage a very dangerous thing called group think if you all want to read about mayor screwups that cost human lives, give Boeing a google couple planes loaded with passengers in the ocean.. ringing any bells?
    We need to ask WHY!? Why wear the uniform to begin with!?……..(pause for thought)……..there u go. Player to player team against team. That’s what it’s for! Nothing more.
    Sorry to any I have offended with my very simple explanation. Keep it simple folks, were here for hockey.

    I genuinely feel like all these theme nights are a way to pacify the vocal minority on Social Media. In today’s age you have to EXPLICITLY state that you are FOR something, and if you don’t everyone rushes to Twitter to say you’re AGAINST whatever issue.

    Nobody is going to watch a game and think oh the Flyers are an inclusive team I am going to root for them now. It’s an empty gesture to keep themselves out of the crosshairs of bored social media users looking for something to get offended about. “Why aren’t the Flyers showing they have PRIDE/against Cancer/For the Troops?”

    Not that many are doing anything to stop this public demand for something to be offended about. It’s quite off putting.

    What it comes down to is this:

    Anyone who doesn’t RESPECT other’s lifestyles, religious beliefs, etc are living this life wrong. Be straight, be gay, be trans. Respect other’s ethnicity. Don’t hate others because you don’t agree with it.

    HOWEVER…the flip side is that as long as people are not actively hating or doing anything to impede these people’s rights to live their own life……STOP trying to police their inner thoughts. Some may be against this /that / the other. That’s fine. When it’s vocalized or written then that’s a problem.

    Just because some may respect other’s rights to live how they want to live, that doesn’t mean others have a right to police their inner thoughts and opinions. That’s the issue to me. So this guy doesn’t want to wear the warmup shirt. Has he said or done anything AGAINST the Gay community? No? Then shut the heck up and let him choose to do what he wants.

    My question comes when your article states that wearing the uniform was “optional.” In many of the newscast that I heard and read from both sides of the issue was that wearing the uniform was “mandatory.” Am I right, or did I read incorrectly

    Actually, my article states that it was EFFECTIVELY optional, because Provorov opted not to wear it and was not punished. So in practical terms, it turned out to be optional.

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