Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take the ice during warmups to observe “Pride Night” on Tuesday, citing his Christian faith.
Provorov chose not to participate in the team promotion intended to show support for the “LGBTQ+ community.” The pregame skate included players wearing Pride-themed jerseys that displayed their names and numbers in rainbow colors and holding hockey sticks wrapped in rainbow-colored tape before the Flyers’ home game against the Anaheim Ducks.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” Provorov told reporters following the game.
Provorov confirmed that his religion is Russian Orthodox, making no other comments on the matter.
“I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov on refusing to wear a rainbow jersey for warm ups during “Pride Night” due to his Russian Orthodox faith.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 18, 2023
Flyers head coach John Tortorella defended Provorov’s decision to stand for his convictions.
“He’s being true to himself and to his religion. … It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” Tortorella said.
A reporter also asked Tortorella whether he considered keeping Provorov out of the game over the decision. The Flyers coach replied no, declining other questions on the issue.
Provorov went on to play after the pregame Pride Night festivities. The Flyers beat the Ducks 5-2.
The issue was divisive among many hockey fans. SB Nation NHL Editorial Director Steph Driver blasted the player’s refusal to take part.
“Ivan Provorov was allowed to play in a game for the Philadelphia Flyers – the organization that was the first to say that you will be removed from the arena if you utter a homophobic slur – after refusing to wear a Pride logo for warm ups,” Driver tweeted. “What an absolute disgrace.”
Ivan Provorov was allowed to play in a game for the Philadelphia Flyers – the organization that was the first to say that you will be removed from the arena if you utter a homophobic slur – after refusing to wear a Pride logo for warm ups.
What an absolute disgrace.
— Steph Driver (@StephaliciousD) January 18, 2023
Others were quick to support Provorov’s choice to skip the pregame activities.
“My new favorite hockey player is Ivan Provorov @NHLFlyers. I also respect peoples [sic] choices, but that doesn’t mean I have to support them. Way to go Ivan!” one user tweeted.
The Flyers released a statement following the game but did not mention Provorov.
“The Philadelphia Flyers organization is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the local LGBTQ+ community,” the statement said. “Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organizations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year. The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.”
It’s not the first time Pride Night festivities have divided professional athletes. In June, at least five Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear rainbow-themed logos as part of the team’s Pride Night promotion.
“It’s a hard decision,” pitcher Jason Adam said. “Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different.”