Sunday Sports Spotlight: The “You Can Play Project” leads by example, and serves as a model for other sports-centric pro-gay organizations. They fight homophobia in life and sports, in an informed and inoffensive way.
In February 2010, Brendan Burke, 21, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, was tragically killed in a car accident. Brendan’s death sent shock waves through professional sports, especially in the world of ice hockey. Brendan was a gay college athlete, and a member of the hockey community who was committed to fighting homophobia in sports and hockey.
Brendan’s brother Patrick, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, and Brian Kitts, a gay business executive, joined Glen Witman, the gay founder of Gforce Sports, to start the You Can Play Project. The You Can Play Project’s goal is to "carry on Brendan's legacy, and ensure that LGBT athletes around the world are afforded equal opportunity; judged only by their talent, character, and the work ethic in their sport.”
Brian Burke said that "Patrick is very passionate about this. It's two things. When Brendan made his decision to come out publicly, it changed a lot of lives. I get letters from kids who said it gave them the courage to come out and from parents who say it gave them the view that they should accept their child. I think Patrick is determined to continue Brendan's agenda. Plus, this keeps Brendan's legacy and memory alive."
Dan Steinberg wrote about the You Can Play Project for The Washington Post.
Since his younger brother Brendan became one of the most prominent gay figures in North American sports, Patrick Burke has made frequent outreach efforts to athletic teams and organizations about ending homophobia in sports. After he and his family members — including father Brian Burke, the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs — were done speaking, they would invariably be asked the same question by coaches and players: What do we do next?
“And we just got tired of not having an exact answer for that question,” Patrick told me last week. “We wanted to formalize it, to say to players and coaches and administrators: Here is what you do to make sure your locker room’s safe, and your teammates feel welcome.
“I do not intend to be doing this for the rest of my life; we want to rectify this as soon as possible,” he said. “The end goal of our project is that we’re completely useless. We want the day to come when it’s not a story when an athlete comes out, when athletes are only judged by how they can help their teams win.”
How brilliant would it be to see the day, when it isn’t a story when an athlete comes out. The “You Can Play Project” is terrific, and I encourage you to check out their website, and give them your support.
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