NHL Commissioner: Players Won't Be Forced To Wear Pride Jerseys

John Simmons | June 23, 2023
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The National Hockey League (NHL) used to force players to be moving billboards for the LGBTQ agenda by mandating they wear rainbow-themed jerseys on Pride Nights.

I say “used to,” because league commissioner Gary Bettman has just announced that his business will no longer require players wear pro-gay attire during warmups.

“I suggested that it would be appropriate for clubs not to change their jerseys in warm-ups because it's become a distraction and taking away from the fact that all of our clubs in some form or another host nights in honor of various groups or causes, and we'd rather them continue to get the appropriate attention that they deserve and not be a distraction,” Bettman said after a meeting with the NHL Board of Governors on Thursday.

Why, you may ask, would a sports league take a step back from supporting a worldview that America at large is all too eager to celebrate? It’s because of the courage of several players and teams in the league.

Related: MLB Reportedly Won't Force Teams to Wear Pride Jerseys

It started when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov chose not to wear a pride jersey because of his Russian Orthodox beliefs. Despite facing intense backlash from hockey media personnel, his courage inspired many others to do the same thing. Soon after, multiple players and entire teams followed Provorov’s example. The New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer, Florida Panthers stars Eric and Marc Staal, all chose not to wear the jerseys for a variety of reasons (many of which were faith-related). 

The courage of these men sent a resounding message that evidently reached the ears of the commissioner: they would not silently cave to a toxic worldview that doesn’t align with their beliefs and chose to stand up for themselves. Because they valued convictions over reputation, they have ushered in a substantial change to how the league conducts its business.

The NHL of course isn’t doing away with "Pride" nights completely; Bettman believes there’s some money to be made by supporting these lost individuals and he doesn’t want to affect his bottom line. But nonetheless, it’s a massive shift change within the league.

It’s often said there are lessons to be learned from playing and watching sports. Maybe this series of events is worth taking note of?

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