Nineteen of the 20 players on Saturday night’s roster for the San Jose Sharks of the NHL wore a kick-ass Pride jersey during warmups with rainbow tape and the word “love” on an image of two intersecting hockey sticks. One player, who cited Christianity, did not.
I chose to begin my story with the 19 over the one, goalie James Reimer, who trotted out the old nonsense about how being gay is counter to his religious beliefs. The fact is that the Sharks listened to their dissenting teammate, let him do his thing, and wore the jerseys willingly. I’d rather celebrate them then make the outlier the focus.
“Every individual has a choice, and he made his,” captain Logan Couture said, according to Corey Masisak of the Athletic. “The rest of us are going to be wearing the jersey I think the organization sees this as an extremely important night. And I think a lot of guys in the room are excited to go out and wear the jersey and celebrate it. I think hockey really is for everyone. It is an inclusive sport. We want it to be that way. We’re looking forward to going out there and putting the jersey on and playing a game.”
Couture was asked why it was important to wear the jersey:
“I can just speak for myself. Every individual is different. Every individual has different beliefs. There’s a lot of guys on a hockey team and that’s the way that the world is, I guess. For me, I’ve always enjoyed these types of games, these types nights. We usually have one every year here in San Jose, at least to my my knowledge. I do think that hockey is at its best when it includes everyone. Everyone gets to enjoy this incredible game that we play. It really is a lot of fun to play. So I think every person should have the opportunity to play.”
Couture said Reimer brought up his views “and that was basically it. We talked about it just really quickly.” Translation: They told Reimer “‘You do you,’ we’re going to do what’s right.”
Here is a closeup of the Pride warmup jersey:
As it turned out, Reimer — a backup goalie — did not see any action and the team wore its regular teal home jerseys as planned. Before the game, he issued a statement:
Under the umbrella of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone initiative, the San Jose Sharks have chosen to wear jerseys in support of the LGBTQIA+ community tonight.
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.
I strongly believe that every person has value and worth, and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.
He later said that he thought that practice jerseys came across as more “mandatory or in your face,” compared to players in the past choosing to wrap Pride tape on their stick or not.
As for his religious arguments, it’s just the same bigotry wrapped in religion. Jesus Christ never spoke about homosexuality. And Reimer clearly doesn’t believe much in the worth of LGBTQ people if wearing a Pride jersey as a sign of support in a warmup is too much to ask.
The Sharks issued a statement in support of Pride Night and the game went on. The New York Islanders won, 4-1.
Meanwhile, down the coast in Los Angeles, the Kings celebrated their Pride Night and by all accounts there was zero controversy and it seems every player wore the Pride warmup jerseys that were designed by a fan.
But maybe the coolest Pride outfit we’ve seen this season was worn Saturday by former L.A. King Daryl Evans:
Saturday was the latest in what has become a controversial year of Pride nights in the NHL. For more:
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