National Hockey League (NHL) player Ivan Provorov took no part in the Philadelphia Flyers’ Pride Night or wear a rainbow-colored jersey and said that “gay stuff” should be left to soccer. Provorov has left the sporting fraternity in outrage after making some insensitive comments. However, a UFC veteran, Jake Shields, apparently agrees with Proporov’s views as he reposted his comments on Twitter.
— Jake Shields (@jakeshieldsajj) January 21, 2023
According to the BabylonBee, Provorov said, “Listen, man, I got nothing against the gays. But I ain’t wearing that thing. Let’s leave all that gay stuff in soccer where it belongs. Also, I believe in God and stuff, and I don’t want to disobey him, so there’s that.”
This is, however, not the first time Shields has shown his open support of homophobia. He made homophobic comments last year as well just before pride month in June. In late May, he tweeted, “It’s not even June and I’m already sick of pride month.”
It’s not even June and I’m already sick of pride month
— Jake Shields (@jakeshieldsajj) May 24, 2022
The 26-year-old hockey player, Provorov, on the other hand, cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason. Provorov did not participate in the warmups, where, in celebration and support of the LGBTQ+ community, the Philadelphia Flyers wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. They defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Provorov played nearly 23 minutes in the game.
“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the game, according to Sportsnet. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.” He did not answer any follow-up questions about his decision.
The Flyers were set to auction the jerseys and sticks following the game. The proceeds are to go to the team’s charity and the efforts they are putting in to grow the game of hockey in diverse communities.
What did the NHL say in response to Ivan Provorov’s comments?
The NHL released a statement Wednesday stating that “players are free to decide which initiatives to support.”
“Hockey is for everyone is the umbrella initiative under which the League encourages Clubs to celebrate the diversity that exists in their respective markets, and to work to achieve more welcoming and inclusive environments for all fans,” the league said in the statement, according to Sportsnet.
NHL’s statement on Ivan Provorov’s refusal to participate in Hockey Is for Everyone Night, and the Flyers’ support of that decision… pic.twitter.com/uRCaO8wPYX
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) January 18, 2023
“Clubs decide whom to celebrate, when and how — with League counsel and support. Players are free to decide which initiatives to support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.”
The NHL also champions the social activism campaign called the You Can Play Project. It aims to ensure equality, respect, and safety for players of all sports without regard to sexual orientation. However, the NHL is yet to have an openly gay active player.