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NHL Pride Days | San Jose Sharks James Reimer: What Truly is Equality

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Earlier this year, we told the story of Ivan Provorov, the Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman who chose not to step foot on the ice for warmups during NHL Pride Night. Players were directed to warmup in a rainbow pride jersey and tape their sticks with rainbow tape during the warmup session before later returning for the game in normal attire. Ivan Provorov chose not to participate citing his Orthodox Christian beliefs as the reason not too.

Ever since, many players have stood strong on the issue, choosing to not participate as well. San Jose Sharks Goalie James Reimer was the second player to take a public stance, and his statement is very heartfelt and courageous:

NHL Pride Days

“For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – not just in title but in how I choose to live my daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and to follow Him. I have no hate in my heart for anyone and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life. I strongly believe that every person has value and worth and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”

-James Reimer

This has sparked a national debate on the issue, is it ok for these players to choose not to participate?

The Athletic Hockey Show, produced by the publication The Athletic had quite a bit to say about the situation. And if you feel like watching the very liberal left leaning interpretation of the situation in it's entirety, you can watch here.

Julian McKenzie early on makes a statement, "The fact that the intention, the well meaningness of these types of nights, the purpose is sort of being lost in all this."

If the intention is for the LGBTQ agenda to be force fed to every stakeholder, including the players, the coaches, the staff, and the vast public. Then yes the purpose is getting lost and should be lost. If the intention is to show the public that we respect everyones beliefs and lifestyles, but don't force anyone to agree with someone's choices or lifestyles, then the opting out of players make this purpose even larger.

James Reimer said it best, "I have no hate in my heart for anyone and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness."

We can't expect to have a Christian night and expect a Muslim athlete to step foot on the ice wearing a cross. Why can we not figure out in this current society how to respect everyone while also understanding that some people's beliefs are contrary to other aspect of society.

Better yet, why are we politicizing groups and sects of people and forcing agenda into sports.

Mark Lazerus later in the show complains he has to do his job and write a story about this pride night debacle but makes sure to let everyone know that his hard work is exceptionally important, "You have to keep pointing it out because when we start ignoring it thats when the bigotry wins, thats when the homophobes win."

I have yet to understand how a person like Reimer who has had many teammates come out and say that he has never treated anyone different regardless of their faith, heritage or sexual preferences any different is all the sudden a bigot or homophobe. In fact the disrespect for Reimer and Provorov's faith is the true bigotry.

Lazarus continues, "Good for the sharks, they didnt do what the Wild or the Rangers did which was bail completely. They prioritized one teammate getting bad PR over an entire section of their community and the idea of hockey being a welcoming open space, thats cowardly. I don't care if the reason is because of the Russian law thats criminalizing, you know, so called propaganda. I don't care if it's because of someones religious beliefs, you don't have to prioritize that one person over everbody that pays a ticket to see you. Everybody who tunes in to watch you."

I'm sure that more players are relieved they don't have to make the tough choices that Reimer and Provorov have faced. Pretty sure everyone can recall that Tim Tebow is still not in the NFL and few can say for certain that choice is regardless of his stance on abortion, public prayer and his hardcore love for Jesus Christ.

The assumption Mr. Lazarus that these teams cancelled for just a single teammate is probably made under false pretense. I'm sure they didn't cancel for just one teammate.

And why wouldn't Russian athletes fear for their safety back home in Russia, we all know the Brittany Griner story. You think these athletes would feel safe heading back home after essentially breaking Russian law.

To understand what equality truly is, which by the way is never fully attainable, we can argue that another day, we must accept differing beliefs and viewpoints.

In Colorado, discrimination is based on the following protected classes:

  • Disability (a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits a major life activity)

  • Race (includes hair texture, hair type, or a protective hairstyle commonly or historically associated with race, such as braids, locs, twists, tight coils or curls, cornrows, Bantu knots, Afros, and headwraps).

  • Creed

  • Color

  • Sex

  • Sexual Orientation

  • Gender Identity

  • Gender Expression

  • Religion

  • Age (40+)

  • National Origin

  • Ancestry

  • Marriage to a Co-Worker (applies in limited circumstances)

  • Pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions

  • Wage Transparency Act (sharing and comparing wage information with coworkers)

Creed is simply defined as, one's strongly held beliefs. Not to mention religion is still listed as a protected class. While Federally, I do not believe Creed is listed, it is listed in plenty of other states.

Therefore Reimer, should in fact be protected by his choice to stand by his faith. Therefore I think that the Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks have made the right decision not to pursue any punishment as many of these pundits have encouraged and expressed.

Our society should embrace the ideas of tolerance, the understanding that everyone has different ideas and viewpoint and we can't go off killing people for their beliefs or attacking them.

I have coached for over ten years and have coached plenty of athletes in the LGBTQ community, every one of them understood that although I did not agree with their lifestyle I would treat them no differently, I would provide them with the same coaching and opportunities and not one of them every felt discriminated against.

They knew fully my stance, they knew 100% that my religious beliefs were counter to their choices and yet amongst the tons of other competitors in the local area they chose our team. That is the model we should be following as a society, not the bigotry that exists of choosing one cause, one lifestyle, one agenda and if you don't agree you are labeled a terrible human being.

So thank you James Reimer and Ivan Provorov for your strong faith and biblical stance.

If you would like to watch our full show discussing this topic as well as the Mid Vermont Christian School incident, you can do so here or down below.

And please, if you would like to support our mission you can donate here.

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