Philadelphia Flyers’ Pride Night sparks controversy

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 25: Ivan Provorov #9 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on March 25, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

The Philadelphia Flyers hosted a Pride Night during a home game on Jan. 17, where celebrations included team-issued jerseys that players wore during the pregame warmup. 

But Russian defenceman Ivan Provorov decided not to participate in the night’s festivities by sitting out of the warmup.

“I respect everyone and their choices but I chose to stay true to myself and my religion,” Provorov told reporters after the game.

After the game, the NHL issued a statement reaffirming that hockey is for everyone and that Ivan’s choice to not wear the jersey does not deter him from playing. They also acknowledged that it is a choice to wear these jerseys and he had the right to refuse.

 Head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, John Tortorlella, said this situation shouldn’t be an “issue” and that he supports all his players’ decisions. 

This act against the 2SLGBTQIA+ movement has many students at St. Thomas University questioning whether religion is an acceptable excuse and if the action taken at the Flyers’ game is worth discussing.

“If you were raised in a religion with a specific belief and you are forced to wear a jersey that counters it, you should have a choice,” said second year STU student Jacie Black.

Black said a simple task, like not wearing a jersey, can also not be simple at the same time due to the global nature of the 2SLGBTQIA+ movement.

“It’s hard to change someone’s mindset with events like this, but no one is ever closed off to change,” said Black. “I think it’s good because you’re throwing awareness into things that people do as a routine, like watching their favourite hockey team.”

Joseph Debly, a second year student at STU, identifies as part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. He believes that actions taken like not wearing a jersey are harmful to young, vulnerable queer people.

“It’s going to encourage Provorov’s younger fans who look up to him to also be homophobic and hateful on the basis of religion as an excuse,” he said. 

Debly said that Pride nights, similar to the Flyers, are helpful to the community by spreading awareness and sparking conversation, which he deems as “the only way people are going to learn.”

“I see so many people celebrate Pride and move on, but it’s not about that,” he said. “It’s about recognizing people as people saying ‘I’m here to support you and acknowledge the difference between us.’”