This is becoming, sadly and infuriatingly, a familiar story in sports. The NHL wants you to believe that “hockey is for everyone,” except that it never seems to filter down to anyone in the game below the tagline.
Ivan Provorov, on Pride Night in Philadelphia, refused to wear the rainbow-themed jerseys the Flyers sported for warmups. So he wasn’t on the ice for warm-ups. But he played in the game. And his coach, John Tortorella, didn’t seem to care all that much. Which is certainly a departure from how Tortorella used to feel about players respecting beliefs (in fairness to Torts, he did walk that back years later).
Hockey is for everyone
But what Tortorella and Provorov don’t realize, or do and just don’t care about, is that they are the reason that teams have Pride nights, that there have to be these dedicated campaigns to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and to let them know they are as welcome in hockey as anyone else. Because hockey, as much if not more than any other sport, has not made any of that community feel welcome for pretty much its entire existence.
The move here, the only correct one, would have been to not let Provorov play. To tell Flyers fans, especially LGBTQ+ Flyers fans, that the organization has their back and will not accept homophobia in any form. Because that’s what it is, no matter how shrouded in his religion Provorov wants to make it and Tortorella wants to wimp out and hide behind too. Torts is a hardass until it really matters. If your religion teaches that some people are less worthy of rights, inclusion, and care because of who they are, your religion is a steaming pile of shit. Plain and simple.
What should be pointed out to both of these dumbfucks is that there’s likely an LGBTQ+ player in their dressing room, who very well might feel like he can’t live openly and comfortably as an NHL player because this kind of crap flows so freely within the league and game. Someone should ask them about that. Provorov is making a statement that he thinks that individual is beneath him, and Tortorella is essentially sanctioning it.
Gary Bettman should take action, but he won’t
The next move should be Gary Bettman stepping in and suspending both, but don’t sit on a hot stove waiting for that to happen. Much like Rob Manfred was buried somewhere in his scumbag hovel when the Tampa Bay Rays pulled this horseshit this past summer. One can’t help but feel they opened the doors for this kind of thing on these shores, when none of those players were punished for camouflaging themselves as servants of the Bible while being bigots. And also being completely oblivious to what Jesus’s message actually was. Idrissa Gueye, then of PSG and now of Everton, refused to wear the pride jersey the club was featuring once and wasn’t allowed to play.
Provorov can spew whatever drivel he can think of about respecting choices or people all he wants, but he did the exact opposite. His actions, and the Flyers’ inaction, make it clear that he agrees that the LGBTQ+ not only have no place in hockey but in the world, and simply ignores if not pisses on the struggles they’ve had to even feel comfortable being a hockey fan.
Provorov is allowed to be an idiot, but his coach and team certainly don’t have to sanction it. It’s certainly not like the Flyers have a lot to lose, given the rate their season, and direction, have furiously dug themselves into a crater. We keep ceding ground to those claiming “religion” in lieu of being honest about their hate, ignorance, and insecurity, and those of us who want everyone accepted and with the same rights and freedoms are the ones who keep losing things. This was an easy place to declare it would stop, and everyone whiffed.
Ring of Honor legend Jay Briscoe dead at 38
There was a lesson in just how frustrating these kinds of discussions are because of just how fragile life is when the news broke last night that Jay Briscoe passed at the age of 38 in a car accident.
For those who don’t know, Jay Briscoe was one-half of the defining tag team of Ring of Honor, being with the company for its entire existence and providing some of the most memorable matches, tag or otherwise, in wrestling anywhere.
It was even more jarring because Jay and his brother Mark Briscoe had just completed what is most likely the pinnacle of their career, their trilogy of matches with FTR that simply set the industry alight. Most would tell you they’re the three best tag matches anywhere ever, and had poised the Briscoes to bigger and better things.
The Briscoes certainly weren’t without controversy, which may have kept them off mainstream TV forever. Briscoe certainly made some hideous comments which he repeatedly apologized for, though the duo’s continued use of confederate flag imagery would cause anyone’s mileage to vary on how seriously they took their contrition. It certainly made them an uncomfortable watch for many fans.
Briscoe was also beloved by just about everyone they came across in the industry, which saw an outpouring of sorrow and love last night. It’s just how quickly it can go, from the top of one’s business, to gone forever.
The NBA MVP debate is a funny thing
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