The Philadelphia Flyers hosted their annual LGBT Pride Night celebration on Tuesday, January 17, during a home game against the Anaheim Ducks. Before the game, players wore “special Pride-themed warmup jerseys” and used “warm-up sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape.”
It was all in “celebration and support of the LGBTQ+ community,” with Flyers Charities presenting a $5,000 check to the Gay Officers Action League of Greater Philadelphia and auctioning the jerseys and hockey sticks after the game “with proceeds going to Flyers Charities and their efforts to grow the game of hockey in diverse communities.”
But defenseman and alternate captain Ivan Provorov refused to wear the rainbow jersey, skipping the pre-game warmup. After the Flyers won the match by a score of 5-2, he told reporters, “I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
He added that he was willing to answer questions about hockey but didn’t want to discuss the issue further.
“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
Provorov is Russian Orthodox, which, like every other Christian church until recent years, believes that individuals are made in God’s image either male or female and that marriage is the union of a husband and wife.
For taking his stance, Provorov was pilloried by LGBT activists and their allies, with hockey reporters especially unhinged by the incident. But he also received support from his coach, fans, conservatives and Christians.
Adam Proteau, who writes about the sport for The Hockey News and the Toronto Star, said Provorov “has the right to any opinion he chooses,” but then gave his own opinion of the Russian player, “He’s a shameful human being whose homophobia is only going to get more shameful over the years.”
Ivan Provorov has the right to any opinion he chooses. And we have the right to have any opinion on Ivan Provorov that we choose. Like this: he's a shameful human being whose homophobia is only going to get more shameful over the years.
— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) January 18, 2023
Canadian Sid Seixeiro, who cohosts Toronto’s Breakfast Television, reacted passionately to Provorov’s standing up for his faith, saying the National Hockey League should fine the Flyers $1 million. “I just think the NHL has to do something,” he added.
Seixeiro pointed to the NHL tag line, “Hockey is for Everyone,” and went on to attack people who act on their faith,
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’d 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 … don’t feed me the religious beliefs line.”
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
Seixeiro evidently believes “Hockey for Everyone” applies to LGBT-identified folks but not to people of faith.
“Inclusivity” for me but not for thee.
E.J. Hradek, senior reporter for NHL Network, jumped on the anti-Provorov bandwagon, suggesting the hockey star go back to Russia and get involved in the country’s war with Ukraine. Hradek opined:
And Ivan Provorov can get on a plane any day he wants and go back to a place where he feels more comfortable and take less money and get on with his life that way.
He said the hockey player had not “assimilated” with his teammates, community and country, adding,
But if it bothers you that much, there’s always a chance to leave and go back where you feel more comfortable. I understand there’s a conflict of sorts going on over there, maybe get involved.
NHL analyst says on the NHL Network! that if Philly Flyers Provorov doesn’t want to wear a pro-LBGTQ uniform he should leave America, go back to Russia, and fight in the war against Ukraine. The tolerant left! Holy shit: pic.twitter.com/wWLFBy2stC
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) January 19, 2023
But many of those reporters received backlash from those who support Provorov, his religious freedom and his choice not to bend the knee to LGBT activism.
Flyers’ coach John Tortorella defended the player, saying, “He’s being true to himself and to his religion. This has to do with his belief in his religion. It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself.”
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
Over at The American Conservative, Live Not By Lies author Rod Dreher wrote that Provorov’s statement should have been enough for a liberal society, “But we don’t live in a liberal society anymore. We live under a progressive soft totalitarianism.”
Dreher, a fellow Orthodox believer, tweeted, “God bless Orthodox Christian #IvanProvorov, who cares more about honoring the living God than worshiping the idols of this decadent age. Axios! [Greek for ‘he is worthy’].”
— Rod Dreher (@roddreher) January 18, 2023
Andrew Powell, contributor at the Daily Caller, pointed out the support Provorov is receiving from fans, with his jersey selling out online:
I’m totally getting myself a jersey when they are back in stock.
Only a couple of days after Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov boycotted the franchise’s LGBTQ+ Pride Night, and just a day after crazed liberals in the media attempted to destroy him for it, Provorov is now swimming in pure glory after his jersey sold out online at both the NHL Shop and Fanatics.
Both websites have listed Provorov jerseys as “almost gone,” with the only size remaining being extra-small.
In another article at the Daily Caller, Powell wrote:
Ever since I got interested in politics, I’ve pretty much viewed liberals in media as a bunch of crazy people, and this whole situation is just the latest example.
Nobody said anything hateful about the LGBTQ+ community. It was Provorov simply honoring his religion’s guidelines and showing respect to LGBTQ+ by staying quiet and boycotting in silence.
But, of course, the liberals in media got a hold of everything and made this story bigger than it had to be.
Related articles and resources:
Focus on the Family:
Photo from Getty.