By Jonathon Van Maren
As a lifelong, passionate ignorer of professional sports, I do not know much about the National Hockey League beyond what has been inflicted on me against my will. But as it turns out, I do know more than many sports commentators. The latest NHL controversy has nothing to do with fights, or a bad ref call, or anything else related to, you know, the sport. It is about Ivan Provorov, a defenceman for the Philadelphia Flyers, declining to wear a rainbow jersey during a warmup “Pride Night” game against the Anaheim Ducks on January 17.
When asked about it by reporters, he cited his Russian Orthodox faith. “I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov told reporters after the game. “My choice is to stay true to my religion, that’s all I’m gonna say. That’s all I’m gonna comment on that. If you have any hockey questions, I would answer those.” Hockey, of course, is far less interesting than the sexual politics that are now somehow part of it, and so a reporter pressed him. “Did you not hear what I just said? Can you respect that?” he responded politely.
As it turns out, there are plenty of journalists who can not, in fact, respect that. The most notable example was Sid Seixeiro, a Canadian TV broadcaster with Breakfast Television on CityTV who was utterly apoplectic (although unfortunately not speechless) that Provorov refused to physically wear a shirt that signalled support for Seixeiro’s preferred worldview:
Seixeiro called on the NHL to “fine the Flyers a million dollars for this… I’m not kidding. Figure this out and stop offending people on nights when it’s not about that, it’s supposed to be about inclusivity.” In order to model this sort of inclusivity, he went on to say: “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. 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.”
Let’s lay this out clearly here for a moment: In the name of inclusivity, this fellow wants a hockey player who has politely declined to wear a shirt with the ideological symbol of a movement he respectfully disagrees with to be punished to the greatest professional extreme possible and says that this man likely lives a life that would make you “throw up.” His version of “inclusivity” is someone actually wearing clothes on their physical person that signals support for what he believes. I presume, of course, that he wouldn’t be a fan of wearing a jersey with, say, a cross on it for “diversity night”—because this garbage only runs one way.