San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer will not participate in Saturday night’s pregame warm-up and said the team’s decision to wear Pride jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community goes against its religious beliefs.
Reimer said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian faith, adding that he “always strives to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey .
“In this particular case, I am choosing not to support something that contradicts my personal beliefs, which are based on the Bible, the supreme authority in life,” Reimer said.
Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to participate in warm-ups wearing Pride jerseys, while Philly’s Ivan Provorov declined in January. Reimer was not scheduled to start Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, Pride night.
Additionally, the New York Rangers chose not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride tape as part of their January night, despite previously promoting that plan.
The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night and said the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusivity.
“In promoting these standards, we also recognize and accept individuals’ rights to express themselves, including how they express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or issue,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to actively participate in coalitions.”
The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusion in sport, said the organization was disappointed by Reimer’s actions.
“Religion and respect are not at odds, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason for not supporting our community,” the organization said. “As with any celebration jersey, wearing Pride jerseys is not about an athlete’s personal feelings; rather the team’s communication that community is welcome in the arena and in the sport.”
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