San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer did not participate in Saturday night’s pre-game warm-up, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community was contrary to his religious beliefs.
Reimer said in a Saturday statement that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he has “always striven to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBT community should be welcomed into hockey.
“In this particular case, I choose not to support anything that is contrary to my personal beliefs based on the Bible, the highest authority in life,” Reimer said.
Reimer became the second NHL player this season to retire from warm-ups while wearing Pride jerseys. In January, Philadelphia player Ivan Provorov refused. Reimer was not supposed to start in Saturday’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is a night of pride.
In addition, the New York Rangers chose not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride tape during their night in January, despite previously touting the plan.
The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusion.
“As we promote these standards, we also recognize and accept people’s rights to express themselves, including how and whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support for the LGBTQIA+ community and will continue to encourage others to actively join.”
The You Can Play project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed with Reimer’s actions.
“Religion and respect do not contradict each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason not to support our community,” the organization said. “Wearing a pride jersey, like any celebratory jersey, is not about the personal feelings of the athlete; rather a message from the team that the community is welcome in the arena and in the sport.”
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