Ivan Provorov, The Sequel: The New York Rangers Score A “Bite Me!”

If I had to guess where a major stand against LGBTQ+ bullying would occur, professional hockey would not have been among the candidates. All it takes, though, is a leader. In an earlier post, Ethics Alarms awarded an Ethics Hero designation and the first “Bite Me!” award to Ivan Provorov, the Philadelphia Flyers defenseman who refused to wear a “Pride”-themed warmup jersey as mandated by the team and the NHL. He knew he would be pilloried for not grovelling to the LGBTQ mob, but stood firm. He said, in effect, to those dictating which causes he must support, “Bite me!”

Now an entire NHL team, emboldened by his integrity, has followed Proverov’s lead. The New York Rangers declined to wear their “rainbow”practice jerseys prior to a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights on January 27th, which had been designated “Pride Night.” The team’s promotions had promised that the players would, but they apparently decided that they were not going to be the organization’s cynical billboards. Not wearing the jerseys does not, as some claimed, constitute a rejection of the LGBTQ+ cause. It is a rejection of forced political or social expression.

The Rangers had no right to promise a public endorsement of any particular cause by the individual players. The players had no obligation to rescue the team from an unethical and irresponsible promise that amounted to false advertising. The team still “prided” the night like crazy: it announced a charitable donation to a group that supports homeless LGBTQ+ youth, Madison Square Garden was illuminated in rainbow lights during the game. Broadway star Michael James Scott, openly gay, sang the national anthem. Andre Thomas, the co-chair of NYC Pride and Heritage of Pride, took part in the ceremonial puck drop. Fans received a Pride-themed fanny pack, while the pinwheel ceiling and panels on the outside of the Garden were illuminated in the rainbow colors.

Not good enough! The local sports media, in a Provorov sequel, were annoyed. Here’s New York Post columnist Mollie Walker’s lament:

By veering from their promoted plan to wear Pride-themed jerseys for their annual Pride Night on Friday at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers turned what was otherwise a beautiful celebration of inclusivity into a story about the organization. It’s ironic that the reversed decision to forgo the special warm-ups and tape was presumably made to avoid a public relations mess. Instead, that’s exactly what has happened. After making a public promise that the team would don the rainbow colors of the Pride flag “in solidarity” with the LGBTQ+ community, and then walking back on it, what did the organization think would happen? There were fans who purchased their tickets to see themselves represented on the ice, and they were left disappointed.

They were disappointed that an organization and the individuals who are employed by it didn’t jump like trained dogs through their rainbow hoops. No little rainbows on the warm-up jerseys!

As Clarkson Lawson, a gay man commenting on the Provorov episode, said on social media,

“The fact that we have this incessant need for validation shows that we’re not actually secure in who we are. We don’t need a pride night or a pride month. Just live your life, be happy with who you are, and stop trying to so hard to garner validation from people who are not going to give it to you. Our acceptance of ourselves should not be contingent on other people agreeing with us. If you truly want to be happy with who you are, find validation from within. Your life will be way better off because of it.”

I do not expect that Lawson’s perspective will find much support among the people who demand rainbows and pink and blue cakes. With this story, Ethics Alarms is, belatedly I’m afraid, officially established the LGBTQ+ Activism Ethics Train Wreck.

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11 thoughts on “Ivan Provorov, The Sequel: The New York Rangers Score A “Bite Me!”

  1. I wonder who in the NHL leadership got the idea to promote Pride. It is like the NHL promoting Catholicism or Scientology.

    My answer would be the same if the NHL required players to wear jerseyts bearing the image of St. Mary to commemorate the Annunciation, or jerseys bearing the image of L. Ron Hubbard to commemorarte his birthday.

    Though I suppose, if the Human Rioghts Campaign, the Church of Scientology, or the Miami Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church were to field sports teams, it would be within their ethical discretion to require players to wear clothes promoting their respective beliefs.

      • I just found this out a couple of weeks ago.

        I was watching a YouTube video of a sci-fi-convention in Australia that took place in the 90s. The celebrity actor who came on stage expressed concern that the audience had been sitting for some time and encouraged the fans to “stand up, stretch, rub each other’s fannies…”

        And then had to be cautioned by the moderator that the word meant something else there.

        Lesson learned, I guess. Brush up on your lingo if you’re visiting another country.

  2. I still find this ironic in light of the fact that NFL players were once told they would be fined for putting patriotic stickers on their helmets in the aftermath of 9/11, but no one dared say a word when Krappernick donned socks that portrayed police officers as pigs. Then of course there was all the 2020 nonsense, which we need not rehash. The fact is that, apparently, at least according to someone in the marketing office or public outreach office, some causes are important enough to mandate participation, but others are problematic enough to mandate they be shut out. Apparently, the gay cause and the black cause are the most important, and everyone must participate, whether they agree with the cause or not, or be forever tarred as homophobic or racist. The next most important causes are for illnesses, with breast cancer being the most important, so everyone must don pink in October. Children’s cancer is apparently not as important, so the donning of gold is not required. Patriotism and veterans are so last generation, especially after 2020, so military honor guards, flyovers, flags, that kinda stuff, is now out of fashion and frowned on. Maybe you can pull it out once or twice a year, but otherwise, nah. Beyond that, other causes just aren’t important enough to look for participation.

  3. Pretty sure this is a follow the money issue.

    I would be surprised if those jerseys were not destined to be auctioned off as player practice jerseys (who knows, they might have even been autographed).

    So much money lost….


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