San Jose Sharks goalie boycotts pregame warmups over NHL pride jerseys
A Christian goalie for the San Jose Sharks boycotted pregame warmups over the weekend, saying the team’s decision to wear NHL pride-themed jerseys went against the teachings of the Bible and his “personal convictions.”
Canadian James Reimer, 35, did not play in Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders after the team released a statement on his behalf in which he said that while he has “no hate in my heart for anyone,” he would not “endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life.”
The statement read in part:
“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 life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and 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.”
Reimer added that he also believes “the [LGBT] community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”
The Sharks’ pride night event, which was heavily promoted on their social media channels, involved players wearing specially designed rainbow-tinged jerseys, the unveiling of an intersex rainbow flag, and, according to a promotional video, a drag queen performance.
As part of the Sharks' social media efforts, the team promoted indigenous traditions such as the North Peigan tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Montana and Alberta, Canada, which holds to a third gender, and a “respected third gender in Zapotec cultures in Oaxaca, Mexico” known as the muxe gender.
The team’s social media content also cited the Trevor Project, an LGBT advocacy group that has research briefs that correlate religious beliefs with higher rates of suicide among LGBT-identified people, a claim that has frequently been disputed.
The event was part of the NHL’s “Hockey Is For Everyone” initiative, which aims to leverage “the game of hockey — and the League's global influence — to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities.”
In a separate statement on March 18, the Sharks also acknowledged "the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” an apparent reference to Reimer.
Reimer’s decision to boycott the event marked the second time this season that an NHL player has refused to participate in a league pride event.
In January, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to participate in his team’s LGBT pride night commemoration because he said he needs to “stay true to his religion” as an Orthodox Christian.
While Provorov didn’t participate in the pride festivities, he joined his team members on the ice after the warmups and helped the Flyers top the Anaheim Ducks.
“I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov, a Russian Orthodox Christian, told reporters after the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
The New York Rangers announced last month they would not wear their pride-themed jerseys in a decision that surprised many Rangers fans.
In a brief statement, the team explained the move: “Our organization respects the [LGBT] community and we are proud to bring attention to important local community organizations as part of another great Pride Night. In keeping with our organization’s core values, we support everyone’s individual right to respectfully express their beliefs.”
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.