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Pushback Against LGBT Activism: NHL Announces Players Will Not Wear ‘Pride’ Gear

The National Hockey League has decided that players will not wear LGBTQ “Pride” gear next season on the ice, nor any other gear promoting various social causes.

Speaking to the Sportsnet news site after the NHL Board of Governors meeting in New York, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the Pride jerseys a “distraction” from the game itself and the causes the teams choose to support, The Hockey News reported.

“This way, we’re keeping the focus on the game and on the specialty nights—we’re going to be focused on the cause.”

Bettman said teams can still host theme nights focusing on whatever causes they choose, and may create special promotion jerseys and gear, but players will not don those items during pregame events or during games.

The decision is the latest example of pushback against LGBTQ activism, which has advanced prolifically in the last decade in numerous cultural arenas, including professional sports.

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During the 2022-23 season, numerous hockey players and several NHL teams opted not to wear Pride gear, with many of the dissenting players citing their Christian beliefs on sexuality.

The Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov declined to participate in his team’s Pride Night pre-game festivities back in January, citing his Russian Orthodox beliefs. In March, the San Jose Sharks’ James Reimer opted out of pre-game Pride festivities, releasing a statement explaining that he had “no hate in my heart for anyone,” but that he couldn’t “endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life.”

And in May, the New York Rangers, in the liberal Northeast, raised eyebrows by chunking the Pride Night specialty jerseys during an evening dedicated to highlighting LGBTQ causes. The team noted their respect for the LGBTQ community, but also stated, “we support everyone’s individual right to respectfully express their beliefs.”

The NHL is not the only professional sports league dealing with tension over gay and transgender advocacy.

On June 4, five pitchers with Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays team refused to wear Pride-themed jerseys and hats the team had created for its Pride Night in a home game against the Chicago White Sox.

Tampa’s Jason Adam, Ryan Thompson, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley and Jeffrey Springs all opted to wear the standard team uniforms rather than the Pride-themed gear.

Thompson said in a statement that he and his four teammates “spent a couple of weeks in prayer and a deep dive into Scripture on the subject at hand to come to the decision that we did.”

Their decision drew praise from Franklin Graham.

“I appreciate these Tampa Bay Rays players who said no to endorsing and celebrating sin during Saturday night’s game,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Followers of Jesus Christ must love everyone, but also stand with the truth of God’s Word and share that truth with a lost and dying world.”

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The National Hockey League has decided that players will not wear LGBTQ “Pride” gear next season on the ice, nor any other gear promoting various social causes.

Speaking to the Sportsnet news site after the NHL Board of Governors meeting in New York, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the Pride jerseys a “distraction” from the game itself and the causes the teams choose to support, The Hockey News reported.

“This way, we’re keeping the focus on the game and on the specialty nights—we’re going to be focused on the cause.”

Bettman said teams can still host theme nights focusing on whatever causes they choose, and may create special promotion jerseys and gear, but players will not don those items during pregame events or during games.

The decision is the latest example of pushback against LGBTQ activism, which has advanced prolifically in the last decade in numerous cultural arenas, including professional sports.

untitled artwork 418

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