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The Sweater

A couple of National Hockey League players have refused to be bullied into wearing pride jerseys during pregame warmups and much of the response has been madness – and worse. It’s another sign that Western culture is in a steep decline.

In 1980’s “The Sweater,” an animated short that gets its title from the traditional term for a hockey jersey in Canada, a boy in Quebec accidentally receives a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey rather than the Montreal Canadiens No. 9 Maurice Richard jersey that his mother had ordered, and the jersey all his friends wear. As a Quebecois, he is humiliated by the Toronto jersey and benched by his coach. The peer pressure he feels to fit in is enormous.

Now in the 2020s, the pressure from radical activists and the corporate cowards who take a knee to them at every opportunity is on players to wear jerseys during warmups that celebrate the ​​LGBTQIA+ community.

But even in 2023, when so many among us are either part of the social bullying culture or so fearful of it that we’ve surrendered to it, there are still men of strength and principle. On Jan. 17, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov declined to wear a pride jersey in warmups, citing his Christian (Russian Orthodox) beliefs. So he sat in the locker room, banished, while his teammates took their pre-game skate.

“I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”

He mistreated no one yet he was viciously maligned by those who self-identify as inclusive, tolerant, and righteously fair.

However, within days, No. 9 Provorov game replica sweaters were selling out on the NHL Shop and at Fanatics, indicating that despite the hatred that was heaped on him – shameful hockey media hack E.J. Hradek suggested that Provorov return to Europe and “maybe get involved” in Russia’s war in Ukraine, while sports writer Cyd Zeigler huffed that “Proporov chose to embrace prejudice” – not just a few appreciated his position.

Provorov even had support from Brad Polumbo, a libertarian-conservative journalist and the co-founder of BASEDPolitics – who also happens to be gay.

“Ivan Provorov did nothing wrong. He didn’t discriminate against anyone. He didn’t call anyone names or use any slurs. He didn’t even say anything hateful or bigoted. All he did was politely decline to affirmatively embrace the Pride movement,” Polumbo wrote. “Sorry, but that’s his right.”

Credit Polumbo for also having the courage to point out that the “pride movement is not some apolitical, human rights-based cause as Provorov’s critics make it sound. It is, unfortunately, very closely tied with Democratic politics – including support for abortion, gun control, and a variety of other issues.”

Ten days after Provorov made his stand, the New York Rangers did not wear pride jerseys during pregame warmups, though they had been scheduled to. The Minnesota Wild also decided against wearing pride jerseys before their March 7 game with the Calgary Flames.

Then this past Saturday, San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer decided it suited him better to sit in the locker room than wear a pride jersey during warmups. He based his decision on his Christian faith.

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

In return for the public testimony of his beliefs, Reimer was savaged on social media. Apparently, we live in a country where a large portion of the population can’t distinguish between “respect for” and “supporting” and “promoting.” It’s entirely possible to accept others even if we don’t wish to be advocates for their lifestyles. But some simply will not affirm this obvious truth.

We acknowledge that the NHL is a private business made of up 32 teams and their owners. The league can make its own rules. But requiring players to “wrap themselves in the rainbow flag,” if we may borrow another line from Polumbo, is discriminatory. And what about the fans? Does the league not care about those who feel they are being forced to endure a stern lecture and tacitly admonished for their standards on pride nights?

Yes, hockey is for everyone, as the league’s slogan goes. It is for the ​​LGBTQIA+ community, minorities, females, the handicapped, and Muslims. But it’s also for Christians, observant Jews, the few Mormons who still practice polygamy, conservatives, traditionalists – anyone who wants to play or watch.

Imagine, though, the uproar from the political left if players wore warmup jerseys with Christian and Jewish symbols, or Joseph Smith Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints jerseys. It’s a minor miracle that Antifa and other violent extremists haven’t crashed teams’ military appreciation nights.

Western culture has come to be dominated by bullies who are ever eager to force conformity on others and to validate their status as “the elite.” They get a sick thrill from being free to intimidate anyone who doesn’t agree with their narrative to the point they control them. This is not the foundation of healthy culture but a sign of declining civilization. We are becoming a grotesque monster with little resemblance to a free society.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • We’re season ticket holders for an NHL team. We intentionally left our seats empty for the “pride” night. I don’t know how the NHL justifies alienating such a huge portion of its base.

    • Lenin’s “useful idiots” are found in all walks of life, including uber wealthy sports team owners. You dont have to have b–ls to be lucky and become wealthy. I see it everyday.

  • Good piece, although it is Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints….

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