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Uptown Sports agency opposes Sean Avery’s support of marriage equality

May 9, 2011, 9:06 PM EDT

Sean Avery Getty Images

Just last week, New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery caught the hockey world by surprise by pledging his support for marriage equality in New York State including filming a 30-second commercial showing his support for the cause of same-sex marriage in the state. Avery’s history as an agitator often gets him a bad reputation on the ice, but his unwavering support of civil rights for gays and his willingness to stand beside any player willing to come out earns him high praise off of the ice.

As you might expect, taking a stance like this on such a hot-button topic often lends you to being criticized publicly. Sometimes it comes from people in the media or in the form of user comments on sites like this one. One area it doesn’t usually come from is from others that work in the same business.

This afternoon, Uptown Sports Management’s Twitter account, Uptown Hockey, sent out a tweet that knocked both the hockey world and those in support of marriage equality for a loop. That’s putting it very mildly.

The author of that tweet was Todd Reynolds, the vice president of Uptown Sports. As you might expect, that kind of opinion out of the blue created outrage throughout the hockey and sports world on Twitter. Avery’s actions were viewed to be brave in the face of a sports world that’s still seemingly behind the times in its open acceptance of homosexuals in professional sports.

Two hours later, Reynolds tried to clarify what he was saying. His clarification wasn’t much better.

It’s just one man’s opinion on the matter, but that opinion is one that’s falling out of favor in the modern day as acceptance and tolerance have become more the norm than the exception. Reynolds’ opinion, however, seems to be one that’s the law of the land with Uptown Sports. Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post caught up with Todd’s father Don, the president of Uptown Sports. His take is not dissimilar to that of his son’s.

“It’s sad. I mean, my personal position is that I do not support gay marriage, and I think it’s wrong, as well. It’s not politically correct to, I guess, give your opinion about a thing like that. It’s politically correct on the other side, for people to say, ‘sure, I support gay marriage.’ But the majority, I think, of Canadians would say that they don’t agree with gay marriage – that man and woman were created to be married, not man and man or man and horse, you know?”

Making matters even uglier still, Todd Reynolds appeared on TSN Radio with James Cybulski and Bruce Arthur this afternoon to present his side of the story and potentially clear the air about what he unleashed on Twitter. That too didn’t quite go as well as you might imagine.

“But I’m a little disappointment in some of the response. If you oppose a viewpoint, you’re immediately targeted by some people as a hater, a bigot, intolerant, homophobic and many other terms. That’s obviously not the case for people who know me… I don’t hate anyone, and I’m certainly not a bigot, but I believe in marriage between one man and one woman. It’s a social debate that’s raged on for quite some time. In Canada and the U.S. it’s a hot-button topic right now. I guess maybe it was how I was raised. I believe in voicing your opinion and not being part of the silent majority. “

For those curious, Uptown Hockey represents a handful of NHL players right now. Andrew Brunette, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jonathan Bernier, Kyle Clifford, and perhaps most notably right now Nashville’s Mike Fisher. A sports agent, or agents in this case, using the company name to flaunt their personal politics seems like the kind of thing that would rankle a player who may not agree with those personal politics. Bringing that sort of attention on a player seems like the sort of thing that would be a bad business decision, never mind in the view of public relations.

We’re not here to silence someone that has an opinion. Free speech is a beautiful thing to have. That said, when it’s opinion that comes across as archaic, backwards, and founded in abject ignorance to the human condition we’re allowed to sound off on it as we choose to as well.

A person’s beliefs are what they are and they’re allowed to them if they see fit, but this is an issue that comes down as one where future generations are going to look back on this generation and wonder why anyone discriminated against people in the first place. Much like the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s, the issue of marriage equality and gay rights boils down to one as just basic human decency. I understand that for some their religious beliefs may get in the way of that but to those who feel and believe that way, I preach to you the matter of respect to fellow human beings.

Respect is a two-way street though and angry, hateful words going either way solves nothing. Teaching more about understanding and the common good would go a long way towards making the gap between both sides of the issue less contentious and far more understanding. Ignorance never got anyone anywhere before in their lives, and the Reynolds’ and Uptown Sports are hopefully learning that lesson in a big way.

  1. TheWizard - May 9, 2011 at 10:33 PM

    Hateful words solve nothing…………like referring to to someone you don’t agree with as archaic, backwards, and ignorant………I see.

  2. ozman51 - May 9, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    I’m sorry but lets look at the word bigot.

    A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

    So to say you don’t support marriage for two humans because of their sexual orientation is bigoted no matter how many times you say you don’t hate afterwards. Bear in mind we are speaking of the legal, civic definition of the word. No one is attempting to say your specific religious flavor would be forced into performing or recognizing such civic marriages.

    I’ve been taught from birth that the Constitution is intended to protect the rights of ALL Americans. I don’t care what your religion has taught you. That’s not what Sean Avery or I are talking about.

  3. stixzidinia - May 10, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    If some gay couple down the road wants to get married, then how does that affect you and your marriage? It doesn’t. The world would be a better place if people just minded their own damn business and quit trying to tell everybody else how to live or what to believe.

    At least the gay couples aren’t basing their belief system on a 2000+ year old book of mythology……..a book written by men during a time that was the absolute low water mark for mankind’s understanding of the world.

  4. emperorzero - May 10, 2011 at 3:00 AM

    It’s not the governments place to legislate morality. Heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, everyone and their partner should have the right to be legally recognized as a couple and gain the benefits that a spouse and/or married couple enjoy.

  5. davidly - May 10, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    It shouldn’t be any of the state’s business who we marry anyway. And I sure wouldn’t want Uptown Hockey to have any say over it.

    “NHL agent” sounds like a poison used in espionage.

    • kellyb9 - May 11, 2011 at 4:00 PM

      Actually, not to nitpick… while I agree with your point, it’s entirely up to the state as spelled out in the Constitution, and I think thats an important point. I’m sure that won’t get me modded up, but just pointing out a fact.

      • davidly - May 11, 2011 at 8:16 PM

        Well, that’s certainly open to interpretation, just like everything else in the Constitution. I don’t know what article you’re referring to but, in my opinion, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – as I said – “should” supersede that which would seek to undermine it.

  6. lawyermalloy - May 10, 2011 at 6:27 AM

    From a purely business perspective,Uptown Sports has just signed it’s death warrant. “Lil” Todd just ruined Daddy’s business with his big, bigoted, mouth!

  7. evolutionaryforces - May 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    “…when it’s opinion that comes across as archaic, backwards, and founded in abject ignorance to the human condition we’re allowed to sound off on it as we choose to as well.”

    “Respect is a two-way street though and angry, hateful words going either way solves nothing.”

    If you really believe this, I would suggest that your refrain from using derisive adjectives such as “archaic, backwards and ignorant” when describing someone’s opinions. By so doing, you have compromised yourself as an honest broker and have become as disrespectful as the side you deride.

    Or maybe respect and tolerance should be reserved soley for those with whom you agree.

    • spiffy53 - May 10, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      at one point both slavery and not allowing women to vote were both ok. are you trying to say that people who supported these positions were not “archaic, backwards and ignorant”? and when you are done explaining, please ensure you walk on water there jesus.

      • evolutionaryforces - May 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM

        To criticize Uptown is not wrong. The error that the author of the article made was to espouse “respect” in one paragraph while deriding them in another. The point is not that Uptown was right, but that Yerdon lowered himself below the standard that he himself laid out.

      • spiffy53 - May 10, 2011 at 2:43 PM

        not sure there really is an error by the author. your premise is that “archaic, backwards and ignorant” is angry and hateful. i would call it more of a descriptive characteristic that does not compromise the author at all. i think you are completely off base and are really missing the point of the discussion while trying to lecture at the same time. it really does not come off too well.

      • evolutionaryforces - May 10, 2011 at 3:37 PM

        In my world, if someone were to call my opinion “archaic, backward and founded in abject ignorance to the human condition” I would not feel respected. There is a difference between perceived truth, opinion and how we treat each other.

      • spiffy53 - May 10, 2011 at 3:52 PM

        not respected vs angry and hateful are very different there chief.

  8. nhlbruins90 - May 10, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    “… that man and woman were created to be married, not man and man or man and horse, you know?”
    “… marriage between ONE man and ONE woman.”

    So once again, gay people are thrown in with polygamists and those who would engage in bestiality. Why not go all the way and just call them all child molesters too.

    Respect? Yes, I believe in respecting other points of view, including people who do not believe in gay marriage. However, the quotes above are fundamentally disrespectful to gay people and their families. To equate the relationship between two men to that of a man and a horse is not only disrespectful, it’s ugly.

    We are talking about the right of gays to get a marriage license from the state, not to be married within a church. Nobody expects the Catholic Church to start marrying gays, ever, and that’s fine. This is indeed a civil rights issue, no different than inter-racial marriage was a few generations ago. (It’s ironic that African-Americans are significantly more opposed to gay marriage than the general population.) The arguments against gay marriage largely echo those of the past.

    It’s funny that I’ve spent forty-something years watching the breakdown of marriage in America destroy our society. I live with it every day I get on a subway, walk around town, drop my nieces off at school, pay my taxes, lock my doors at night (and day), and on and on. It’s a coarser and meaner society because men (and women) decide that they couldn’t be bothered raising their kids. Somebody else will do it, and pay for it.

    And yet, when gay people want to be a part of this institution that promotes responsibility and provides security – not only for the individuals, but for society at large – they’re denigrated for it. They’re deemed a threat to the institution of marriage. Really? If people honestly care about the institution of marriage, they need to look in the mirror first. It’s not a pretty picture, and it has nothing to do with gay people.

    And after a few years of gay marriage, the state of traditional marriage here in Massachusetts seems largely unchanged. The majority of kids in our cities are still being born without a daddy who gives a damn, and we’re all afraid to say so. Mommies and daddies are still breaking up their homes before their kids are properly raised, mostly for selfish reasons. But hey, as long as we can pick on those gays, we’ll all feel so much better … yeah, nice.

    I hate political correctness! It’s censorship. It’s a substitute for debate and logic. It’s small-minded, and it’s the hallmark of an elite education. Ironic, ain’t it. Just thought I’d say that. And I like Sean Avery a lot more now, except maybe not when he’s playing the Bruins. (And don’t be so sure that M Fischer doesn’t agree with his agent. It’s just a guess, but …) And yes, there are gay NHL’ers. Some we know, some we don’t. And since most of the players are a reflection of the larger society, I’d bet most are not bigoted toward gays, even if they use the fa**ot word occasionally. But still, as much of a fan as I am, I see things – like the ‘Chris Pronger is gay’ sign last year – that make me want to turn off the TV. Here’s a rule of thumb – if you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying it in front of Mr. Burke, then maybe you shouldn’t say it at all.

    • bcjim - May 10, 2011 at 6:22 PM

      Very nice essay. You make some entirely accurate points. I am still opposed to gay ‘marriage’ though I have no issue with gay civil unions. The word marriage has been dragged so far down at this point (mostly by hetero people as you note), I guess it doesn’t really matter what they call it.

      I’d just like to think that what I have and the lifelong (seriously) commitment we made before God and our families is something more than a ‘civil right’ or a way to get health insurance.

      • davidly - May 11, 2011 at 3:40 AM

        I’d just like to think that what I have and the lifelong (seriously) commitment we made before God and our families is something more than a ‘civil right’ or a way to get health insurance.

        But that is precisely what it is for you and all heterosexual couples: a right recognized by the state and backed by the benefit(s) you mention. If one is opposed to that, than one should be opposed to it for heterosexual couples as well.

        But as you mention, marriage is more than that. Every day, folks get married in privately sanctioned ceremonies (ie, the Catholic Church). Why do they deserve health insurance?

  9. nicotye - May 10, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    Dear nhlbruins90:

    For uno momento I shall put aside my team affiliations and say a strong: Well Said.

  10. tk1966 - May 10, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    I feel the wedge being driven more and more deeply between me and my wife every time this topic arises

  11. macdonaldbank1 - May 12, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    This holier than thou – written so there it shall be — fallacy; must be stopped!
    It is a criminal offence to cause harm onto others physically or with written items … the bible and torah have been getting away with this for ages.
    This bogus religious filth should be banned. It exists as a tax exempt structure which discriminates against human rights. The pope, bishops and mormons are cult members promoting discrimination against minorities. Perhaps religious establishments have pushed too far from San Francisco to Canada — and it may backfire to such a degree that the churches should be shut down!
    By enjoying their tax exempt status and benefits from the state it also puts churches at the mercy of the state; to be forced to adhere to the human rights laws. Religion is thriving like a cancerous growth on society that should be stopped in its tracks; outlawed & banned.
    Tell them to take that cross and shove it where the sun don’t shine and pay their taxes along the way before they take that cross down forever with its final station; extinction.

  12. macdonaldbank1 - May 12, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return … it is something that should be celebrated! If it is between two guys or girls all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE!

    I am the son of a catholic father who never went to church and a protestant mother who took us to church and Sunday school. Onward christian soldiers; I think not. Such absolute drivel. To be manipulated by a santa claus; an easter bunny and worst of all a bogus cross?

    It is written; so therefore it shall be? We are the chosen people? Such a wicked fantasy. To see the religious lunatics manipulate government and our lives is shameful. According to biblical law, a father can sell his daughter as a slave.
    Bibles and the torah which includes leviticus — should be immediately banned … for promoting hatred against minorities … namely the gay community and the crosses removed from all schools and churches.

    One should appreciate each day of life and not expect another.

  13. macdonaldbank1 - May 12, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    There is no scientific evidence to prove any of the cross related bogus elements of christianity. Our early human ancestors; on this earth … go back more than 6 million years … 5,996,000 years before the Greeks, Romans and the Jews. Christianity is basically a 2011 year old fictional cult.
    In the year 300 AD when Emperor Constantine, who to some was the first pope; went on to fabricate & market Christianity – a fantasy – which turned out to be one of the most hateful & evil concoctions ever perpetrated on the world.

    The evil writings in Leviticus 18:22 … against gays – depict: “P” … “priestly rules” & expanded by the pope; homophobes and religious frauds … to attack the gay community and never meant to apply to the public — but to priests. Leviticus was written long after Moses — 600BC.

    The pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to priests only … refuse to remove this stigma … maliciously persecuting gays. Kids bullied into suicide …! Being black or left-handed or being gay is just as natural. If the black community or women had it written that they should be put to death; how would they like that?

    Churches are committing hate crimes and more succinctly a violent criminal offence against a federally protected minority namely the gay community. It is actually a bigger moment in history … gays standing up for equality … soldiers being discharged are indeed exposing something far greater … the realization that there is something far more evil at work — hateful religion which should be discharged from society — period.

  14. govtminion - May 13, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I used to come here to get away from the gay/religion debates and talk about hockey. Oh, for the good ol’ days…

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