Eric and Marc Staal — brothers who play together for the Florida Panthers — are the latest NHL players to reject the inclusion of LGBT people in hockey and refuse to wear a rainbow Pride jersey for the team’s warm-ups.
Their statement — full of public-relations bullshit about judgement and acceptance — rings hollow:
After many thoughts, prayers and discussions we have chosen not to wear a pride jersey tonight.
We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey.
Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.
We hope you can respect this statement, we will not be speaking any further on this matter and would like to continue to focus on the game and helping the Florida Panthers with the Stanley Cup.
I’m sure Tony Dungy gave them a congratulatory call tonight.
So let’s get this right. You and your religion are so anti-LGBT that you can’t even wear a team-requested rainbow on your jersey for 15 minutes? But you “welcome” LGBT people into your sport?
The entire point of the rainbow is to say to LGBT people, “you belong!”
Their rejection of this simple act of inclusion tells LGBT people very clearly, “We don’t want you here.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has empowered this, saying he fully supports players who share their homophobia.
As far as we know, the rest of the Panthers players wore rainbows for warm-ups. That included Matthew Tkachuk:
"Everybody's welcome in my locker room." ❤️ pic.twitter.com/YwPvqdJYYQ— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 24, 2023
On social media, the Panthers also changed their avatar to one that included a rainbow.
The brothers both played in Thursday’s game, as the Panthers lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-2. The Panthers are currently ninth in the Eastern Division. We’re not sad about it.