As more and more hockey players are claiming that the Pride flag goes against their religious beliefs, the NHL is considering opting out of having “Pride nights” altogether.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested the league will revisit the Pride issue in the offseason to consider the impact the controversy is having on the game.
“This is the first time we’ve experienced that, and I think it’s something that we’re going to have to evaluate in the offseason,” Bettman told CTV news.
“But I think that’s become more of a distraction now, because the substance of what our teams and we have been doing and stand for is really being pushed to the side for what is a handful of players basically have made personal decisions, and you have to respect that as well,” he added.
The backlash from players started in January when the Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov refrained from stepping onto the ice during warmups while his teammates donned LGBT Pride-themed jerseys.
Since then, players from other teams have done the same, including Eric and Marc Staal of the Florida Panthers, James Reimer of the San Jose Sharks, and Ilya Lyubushkin of the Buffalo Sabres.
The entire Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers teams also opted out of Pride night, and a few other teams minimized their original plans to represent the Pride colours.
Woke media outlets suggested that the Pride flag simply means “hockey is for everyone,” and many pointed out Eric Staal’s “hypocrisy,” pointing to him wearing a Pride jersey when he played for Montreal two years ago. However, those Pride jerseys didn’t have the trans colours on them.
Moreover, Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke told Ron McLean of Sportsnet on Saturday that players who opt out of the Pride nights are misinterpreting the meaning of Pride.
“It’s about saying this community is valuable and important and we want to honour them,” Burke said.
Players and teams have mostly cited religious reasons when declining to don the Pride-themed apparel.
Burke said that citing Christianity as a reason “doesn’t compute.”
But, on top of potential religious reasons to snub the alphabet mob, the Pride flag is a politicized symbol, flying solely on one side of several contentious issues in society.
Biological men claiming to be transwomen have been dominating women’s sports competitions and forcing their way into women’s prisons, washrooms and changerooms to gain access to new female victims, and “drag queen story hours,” promoted as pro-LGBT events, have been accused of exposing children to sexualized behaviour and grooming.