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Philadelphia Flyers player cites faith to explain his pregame absence on ‘Pride night’

Ivan Provorov said his Russian Orthodox faith fueled his decision to not participate in the team’s effort to celebrate the LGBTQ community

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Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov and Anaheim Ducks’ Max Jones collide during a game on Jan. 17, 2023.

Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov, left, and Anaheim Ducks’ Max Jones collide during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Philadelphia.

Matt Slocum, Associated Press

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov skipped warmups ahead of his team’s Tuesday game against the Anaheim Ducks due to faith-based concerns about the “Pride night” jerseys and rainbow-colored tape that players were expected to wear, according to The Associated Press.

Provorov, who is Russian Orthodox, said after the game that he respects “everybody’s choices,” but that he chose to act in accordance with his faith.

“My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say,” he said.

Provorov was still able to participate in the game, which the Flyers won 5-2, The Associated Press reported. His coach later said he respects the player’s focus on being true to himself, including to his religion.

“It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” John Tortorella said.

But other members of the Flyers organization said they plan to speak with Provorov about LGBTQ rights, including Scott Laughton, an alternate captain for the team.

Laughton, who helps lead a “program in support of local LGBTQ+ youth in the greater Philadelphia area,” said he’d be talking with Provorov, although he doesn’t “hold anything against anyone,” according to The Associated Press.

Laughton was among the group of Flyers representatives who met with members of the LGBTQ community after the game, the article noted. That gathering, as well as a pregame skate for LGBTQ youth, were part of the team’s “Pride night” festivities.

“The Wells Fargo Center was decorated Tuesday night in rainbow hues representing the LGBTQ+ community through special pride-themed arena LEDs, décor and rainbow-themed team merchandise,” The Associated Press reported.

Provorov’s individual boycott of pregame warmups brings to mind a similar conflict that played out over the summer among Tampa Bay Rays players.

In June, several pitchers and other players chose not to wear the team’s “Pride night” jerseys due to religious concerns about the message the jerseys sent, as the Deseret News reported at the time.

Jason Adam explained the players’ decision in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.

“It’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different,” he said.

The Tampa Bay Rays situation sparked a wave of reactions on social media, as the Deseret News reported. Commentators disagreed on whether the players’ actions were disrespectful or admirable.

Provorov’s decision sparked another round of debate. Many observers tweeted their support for the player, while others questioned why the Flyers organization allowed him to play in the “Pride night” game.