TAG | NHL
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash has joined seven other NHL stars in a video promoting the message of a new non-profit organization: the “You Can Play Project.”
You Can Play is co-founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke who, along with his father Brian Burke (GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs), is carrying on the commitment to fight for equality of LGBT athletes after the death of his younger brother Brendan.
You Can Play’s mission:
You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.
You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.
The organization’s website includes numerous other resources, including an ally pledge and a captain’s challenge. The Project is also going to do something similar to the “It Gets Better” project—finding athletes, coaches, etc. to record promotional videos—except the focus will be narrowed to the simple message that sexual orientation will not be considered in evaluating your capacity to play sports.
In an interview with Outsports, Burke explains that the athletes he has worked with have been more supportive of this narrow message: “Some athletes who might support a gay teammate might not be on board with gay marriage or don’t want to deal with those issues. We’re just getting athletes to say they want the best teammates and the other stuff doesn’t matter. And they know they’ll never have to take a position on gay marriage or march in a pride parade. They can just say they want a safe locker room and not have to do anything else.”
A 30-second initial video (shot and produced by HBO, a partner of You Can Play) will air on national television during the 1st intermission of the NBC telecast of the NY Rangers v. Boston Bruins today, March 4.
You can watch the full-length, 60-second video here:
Like the “Don’t Say Gay” PSA that aired during the NBA Finals, it is absolutely incredible to have a video with this message airing during a national telecast. It actually leaves me speechless.
Aside from Nash, the video also features Patrick and Brian Burke, Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Brian Boyle (New York Rangers), Matt Moulson (New York Islanders), Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers), Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators), Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia), Corey Perry (Anaheim), Andy Greene (New Jersey Devils), Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs), and Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers).
You Can Play’s advisory board also includes some notable names: John Buccigross (ESPN Sportscenter anchor), LZ Granderson (CNN/ESPN columnist), David Testo (recently out professional soccer player), Rick Welts (out President of the Golden State Warriors), among others.
In an interview this morning on CBC Radio, Georges Laraque, an NHL player from 1996 to 2010, and known to be quite an enforcer on the ice (he was named “Best Fighter” by The Hockey News in 2003 and the “Number One Enforcer” by Sports Illustrated in 2008) said he played with a player he knew was bisexual and that the NHL needs a gay player to come out.
At 14:50 into this interview, the interviewer shifted the discussion from the issues of fighting in the sport (the main reason for the interview) and asking: “How big of a problem do you think racism and homophobia are in the hockey world?”
On the issue of homophobia, Laraque responded:
“Well, I’ve been working really on hard to defend those rights: I do every parade I can, and I talk about that all the time.
“But what would be awesome is to have a player to come out and to admit that he’s gay.
“And I have played once with a player that was actually bisexual—and I can’t mention his name—but we need a guy in the NHL [to come out as gay]. If you look at the stats, we know that there has to be some guys in the NHL that are, but in a team sport, I could understand why they wouldn’t want because everything is shared—showers, road trip, hotels, and everything.
“There’s still a long way to go. You’re right, the slur of calling someone gay or fag and all those words, well, something you often associate with someone that doesn’t want to engage, doesn’t want to fight. So, you’re right, it should change.”
It’s a shame that calling someone gay or a fag is the go-to slur directed at someone doesn’t want to fight. This is the reason why I support those campaigns to end the use of homophobic slurs and phrases like “that’s so gay.”
Too often, those slurs are defended with the stance: “oh, it’s not homophobic… I have nothing against gay people.” But the message is perpetuates is that calling someone gay is the quickest way you can tear them down and challenge their strength. To call them gay is to call them weak.
This needs to stop, and I commend Laraque for being so vocal on this issue (and many others, if you continue to listen through the end of the interview).
Hat tip to twitter follower (@idhToronto) for pointing this news out!
The Chicago Gay Hockey Association worked with the U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the Chicago Blackhawks today as part of an event to interact with and benefit the LGBT youth of Chicago.
The CGHA has been posting updates on their Facebook and Twitter (which you should follow in order to get updates about the great work they do), including pictures and a link to this release from the office of Representative Quigly:
CHICAGO—Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Blackhawks Denis Savard, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Brett McLean for a youth hockey clinic at Center on Halsted in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Quigley and the Blackhawks led neighborhood kids in hockey drills, team-building exercises, and scrimmages. Quigley and Blackhawks Charities also donated hockey equipment for permanent use at the Center.
“Hockey is for everyone, and it’s important that we give kids of all backgrounds the opportunity to play sports,” said Congressman Quigley. “I want to thank the Blackhawks, the Mayor, and Center on Halsted for joining me to help promote an active lifestyle and the greatest game there is.”
“I am committed to building a healthier Chicago which focuses on providing children more opportunities to be physically active,” said Mayor Emanuel, “Thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks for investing in Chicago’s communities and giving children in neighborhoods across the city the opportunity to play hockey and be active.”
“The Chicago Blackhawks are proud to partner with U.S. Representative Mike Quigley, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Center on Halsted on this great initiative,” Blackhawks Team President and CEO John McDonough said. “We are appreciative of their support in growing the sport of hockey on a grassroots level while delivering such a positive effect on so many young people in our city.”
“Athletics can help young people build confidence and leadership,” added Center on Halsted CEO Modesto ‘Tico’ Valle. “Unfortunately, too many LGBT youth are prevented from participating fully in team sports because of bullying or other obstacles. We’re proud to work with Mayor Emanuel, Rep. Quigley, and the Chicago Blackhawks to provide the equipment, the training and the safe environment necessary for LGBT youth to participate.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets Pride Night on Friday, March 11, was a success, excluding the defeats of the two host teams. In the NHL game, the Blue Jackets fell to the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Unfortunately, the Blue Jackets appear to have conceded any chance to make the playoffs, an observation quite noticeable in contrast to the Kings who are scrapping for points (only 4 points separate the Kings, currently seeded #4, and the Anaheim Ducks, who are 10th in the standings, 2 places out of the playoffs).
The Ohio Mayhem did not fare much better against the Chicago Black Wolves. The goalie for the Mayhem stumbled out of the bench area to start warm-ups providing a rousing laughter for the crowd. (Pic below, and additional pics from the event here.) It didn’t get much better for the Mayhem and they ultimately lost the game 6-0.
The difference in skill level between the two teams was quite evident. While there were a few players on the Mayhem who looked like they had been playing hockey for a while, the entire Black Wolves team seemed to be able to out skate and shoot the Mayhem. Regardless, it was an enjoyable affair, at least from my perspective.
For the main affair, they had the group up in the “Sky Terrace” of the arena. While it could have looked like an act of segregating the gays, it was quite nice for us to have our own little area. We had our own group of open seating and our own concessions and bathrooms. (You can see the seats that were ours in the picture below: we had all the seats above the divider of the blue sky and clouds.)
The most notable benefit of being separate from the general crowd was that the group could freely engage in those normal public displays of affection: hugging, holding hands, and the occasional peck of a kiss. It’s something that straight couples soft often take for granted and can be a rare opportunity for some gay couples who censor their actions in public.
While presumably coincidental, the entertainment between the 2nd and 3rd periods also was gay themed: the Ohio State Synchronized Ice Skating team performed, donning pink tutus and skating around to some iconic gay anthems. (I wish I remembered what the songs were, but trust me, the gays loved it.)
I consider the event a success because of the spectators it drew in for the first time. The crowd was a good mix of seasoned Blue Jacket fans and many newcomers. All those who came left with a decent amount of swag too: a Rick Nash bobblehead (in the new alternate uniforms), a free Blue Jackets hat and sweatband, and miscellaneous promotional material for Stonewall Columbus, one of the beneficiaries of the event.
Additional pics that I took are here, and I’ll keep an eye out for other pics being posted.
EDIT: The Chicago Gay Hockey Association (home for the Black Wolves) posted a great album of shots from the event/trip.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are hosting a “Pride Night” on Friday, March 11 when they play the Los Angeles Kings at Nationwide Arena.
The event is sponsored by Outlook: Columbus, and a portion of ticket sales will go to benefit Stonewall Columbus and Columbus’ own gay hockey team, the Ohio Mayhem, but ONLY IF you purchase the tickets from Amber Krill. Contact her at 614.246.4236 or by email at email@example.com. Tickets are $35 OR you can enter to win 2 tickets (details below).
Those in attendance will receive a Rick Nash bobble-head and a Blue Jackets hat. Following the NHL game, the Ohio Mayhem, Columbus’ own gay hockey team, will host the Black Wolves, the gay team from Chicago
I decided to buy 4 tickets to the event — and to give away 2 of them:
Here’s what you need to do to enter to win:
(3) Be in Columbus, Ohio, on March 11th. (I’ll confirm this by communicating with you over Twitter or Facebook).
I’ll keep track of all the Twitter Re-Tweets and the list of Facebook “Likes” and then pick the winner on Monday, March 7. If I’m unable to confirm the winner within 24 hours (or they don’t meet the criteria above), I’ll pick another winner on Tuesday, etc., until we give these tickets away.
If you have any questions, contact me.