The liberal sports media is coming down hard on Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov for skipping festivities celebrating LGBTQ pride.
On Tuesday, Provorov decided to opt-out pregame warmups when the team wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape, saying it goes against his religion. He later played the match against the Anaheim Ducks, which resulted in the Flyers’ victory.
“I respect everyone. I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” Provorov told reporters after the game.
But that didn’t sit well with many sports media personalities, some calling for his punishment as well as the Flyers.
Canadian sports pundit Sid Seixeiro called on the NHL to fine the Flyers “$1 million” over Provorov’s “insulting” comments.
“The theme from the National Hockey League is that hockey is for everyone, ok? The theme isn’t hockey is for everyone dot, dot, dot unless you don’t believe in gay rights then do whatever you want,” Seixeiro said. “If the National Hockey League is going to do this, if any league is going to do this, do it properly or reevaluate what you’re doing because there’s not a lot of repercussions that I’m seeing from any league.
“The National Hockey League needs to attack this and figure this out because what I heard last night was offensive and didn’t make any sense,” he went on to say. “Nothing scares me more than any human being who says I’m not doing this because of my religious beliefs. Because when you look at people’s lives who normally say that publicly, you’d throw up at what you saw. You would throw up at what you saw. And I’ve seen that a million times in a lot of different ways. So don’t give me that. With respect, don’t gimme that, because no one’s perfect. Don’t feed me the religious beliefs line and all of a sudden the NHL is going to back off this.”
NHL Network senior reporter EJ Hradek suggested the Russia-born Flyer player should go back to his homeland and join the fight against Ukraine if participating in Pride events is “that problematic for him” and wants to feel “more comfortable.”
“And he’s been in North America for a long time. He played in the Western Hockey League. He’s now been in Philadelphia for many years. If this is that much of a problem for him to maybe assimilate into his group of teammates and in the community and here in this country- that’s okay. Listen, you can feel the way you want, but the beauty is if it bothers you that much, there’s always a chance to leave, go back when you feel more comfortable- I understand there’s a conflict of sorts going on over there, maybe get involved,” Hradek said.
ESPN senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski called out Provorov for previously participating in the Flyers’ military appreciation event.
“Of course, Ivan Provorov is more than happy to play pregame dress-up when it does align with his belief system,” Wyshynski snarled while showing an image of Provorov’s autographed camouflage-themed jersey that was auctioned off.
The Sports Network commentator and The Athletic contributor Pierre LeBrun disputed Provorov’s claim that he “respects everyone.”
“But Provorov obviously does not respect ‘everyone’. If he did respect everyone, he would have taken part in warm-up and worn the Pride Night jersey. Don’t hide behind religion,” LeBrun swiped the Flyer.
LeBrun’s TSN colleague Gord Miller appeared to agree with his sentiment, tweeting “1. Ivan Provorov had the right to refuse to participate in the Pride Night activities in Philadelphia. 2. The Flyers should have responded by not allowing him to play in the game. 3. Freedom of expression doesn’t give you freedom from the consequences of your words or actions.
The Hockey News writer Adam Proteau joined in the pile-on, tweeting “Ivan Provorov has the right to any opinion he chooses. And we have the right to have any opinion on Ivan Provorov that we choose. Like this: he’s a shameful human being whose homophobia is only going to get more shameful over the years.”
Sports writer Rachael Millanta offered a similar sentiment, writing “Being LGBT+ is not a ‘choice.’ Being ignorant, obnoxious, and homophobic is a choice. Ivan Provorov wasn’t wearing uniform tonight and the @NHLFlyers should not have let him play. Stop letting bigots hide behind their cherry-picked religion. Do better.
Steph Driver, NHL editorial manager for SB Nation, decried, “I was hoping what I heard about Provorov wasn’t true, but it has been confirmed… In the year 2023. Provorov couldn’t have a rainbow logo touch his skin for a few minutes.”
The Athletic senior writer Mark Lazeruz added, “The Flyers should have scratched Provorov and cited their basic human decency.”
While many in sports media denounced Provorov, his fans have responded differently as his jersey has quickly sold out in online stores during the liberal backlash.
Fox News contributor Guy Benson commented on the story during Thursday’s episode of “Outnumbered.”
“I’m all for gaining acceptance for LGBT people in the sports community,” he said. “I think it becomes meaningless to have pandering to people like me if it is mandatory, if it is coerced.”