Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Project tackles locker-room culture
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

This article shared 3583 times since Mon Mar 5, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The message was simple: if you can play, you can play.

The messengers were most impressive.

On Sunday, March 4, during the first intermission of a Boston Bruins-New York Rangers hockey game broadcast live on NBC, a PSA was aired, featuring eight NHL stars, including Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Keith and the other NHL superstars voiced their support for the new "You Can Play" project, aimed at ending homophobia and discrimination in sports locker rooms, that athletes should be judged on athletic skill and ability, not sexual orientation or other discriminatory factors.

That video and other future videos will be posted at, which also will offer resources for straight and gay players, coaches and fans. The You Can Play project is backed by numerous National Hockey League players and others, including several All-Stars.

"The goals for You Can Play are clear," co-founder Patrick Burke said in a statement. "We want to make locker rooms safe for all athletes, rather than places of fear, slurs and bullying. The casual homophobia in sports has to change, so all athletes know that what counts is whether you can play the game."

Accoridng to the statement, Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, has been a straight ally since his younger brother, Brendan, came out as gay while a manager of the Miami University ice-hockey team. A car accident took Brendan's life in 2010.

Brian Burke, the father of Patrick and Brendan, is the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager. Brian has been a strong, vocal supporter of the LGBT community since Brendan's coming-out, and both Brian and Patrick appear in the inaugural video.

"The hockey community united behind Brendan because he loved the game, and that's what matters. The NHL players stepping forward to support You Can Play know that creating a homophobia-free environment will make their teams—and the sport—better," Patrick said. "It's important for straight athletes at all levels to step up and let gay athletes know they will be accepted, and to let other straight athletes know that homophobic language and attitudes are never appropriate. This project is a combined effort of gay and straight athletes and fans, but the message is largely for straight audiences."

Brian Burke added in a statement, "The Burke family is very proud to carry on Brendan's legacy by working to ensure that LGBT athletes, coaches and fans around the world are treated with respect by the sports world. The You Can Play project will serve as a tremendous resource for the sports community by providing them with the tools needed to create safe arenas. I continue to be incredibly grateful to the NHL community for rallying around our cause and standing up for equality, and I look forward to seeing other leagues do the same. It has become abundantly clear to me that NHL players, coaches and management agree completely with our ideals: talent matters, sexual orientation does not. If you can play, You Can Play."

Andrew Sobotka, president of the Chicago Gay Hockey Association (CGHA), said he is "very pleased" with the You Can Play Project. "The project itself is to combat homophobia in sports and having 30 NHL players make appearances in these videos makes a big statement," Sobotka said. "It's nice to see the NHL get behind a project that can do such much for so many struggling LGBT athletes who may not feel comfortable being themselves in the locker room. The Burke family and all those involved in You Can Play are doing top notch work in an area that sorely needs it. If homophobia can be eliminated from the sporting community then that will help people from many walks of life to find acceptance with their teammates, friends and family."

Andy Miele was the 2011 Hobey Baker Memorial Award-winner, presented to the best collegiate hockey player of the year. He now plays for the Phoenix Coyotes, and was a friend of Brendan Burke's while at Miami University. "The reason why I wanted to be a part of You Can Play is pretty obvious," Miele said in a statement. "I had a relationship with Brendan and, if he was still here, he would want to promote this more than anyone else. I felt privileged when Patrick came to me and asked me to be a part of it, and I look forward to investing this into players all over the world to make the sports world safe for gay athletes."

The group's advisory board includes Miele, San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels, Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts, two-time U.S. women's soccer Olympic gold-medal winner Angela Hucles and the elder Burke.

Patrick Burke, 28, told the Washington Post that the NHL is already "the most accepting of the major men's sports leagues."

"But the fact is, we've never had an openly gay active male player in any of the four big professional leagues," Burke told the Post. "As accepting as our [NHL] players are and our management is, we need the gay athletes who are currently in the NHL—because I believe there are some—to know just how accepting our league is. It's scary when you think you're alone, when you think you're the only one. Everyone thinks about the worst-case scenario: I'm gonna come out, and my teammates are gonna turn on me, and I'll get cut. We need to show them that that's not the case."

The other co-founders of the You Can Play project are Brian Kitts, who spent more than 10 years working in the front-office of professional hockey, basketball, lacrosse and soccer teams; and Glenn Witman, a former hockey player at Hobart College and founder of GForce Sports, an elite gay hockey team and advocacy program.

"When Brendan died, the Burke [family] made a commitment to changing the atmosphere in sports for gay athletes," said Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of the gay sports website . "What they found is what we've seen for several years: Sports has already changed, but still few people realize that or want to talk about it. The power of Patrick's new project is the removal of the mask of sports.

"This is now an issue athletes are willing to talk about, and they're on the side of inclusion. It's powerful not just for closeted athletes, but also for straight athletes who have long felt the need to act homophobic to be more of a 'man' to [their] teammates. The You Can Play project is instrumental in showing the change in that dynamic, and also giving license to people to just be themselves and play the sport they love."

This article shared 3583 times since Mon Mar 5, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Santa Speedo Run returns with plenty of holiday cheer 2022-12-05
- The 11th annual Santa Speedo Run took place at Sidetrack Video Bar Dec. 3. The event, a fundraiser for Center on Halsted, has grown exponentially year after year and has managed to take on a life ...

Gay News

Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks all lose; NU wins; Illinois in bowl game 2022-12-05
- The streaks continue for the Chicago Bears (3-10). The Bears fell short against the archrival Green Bay Packers (5-8) 28-19 at Soldier Field on Dec. 4. It was Green Bay's eighth straight series win over Chicago, ...

Gay News

Blackhawks end losing streak; UChicago makes soccer history 2022-12-04
- On Dec. 3, the visiting Chicago Blackhawks (7-12-4) defeated the New York Rangers (11-10-4) 5-2, snapping an eight-game losing streak. With an assist on Taylor Raddysh's goal to put the team up 4-1 in the third period, ...

Gay News

Chicago Red Stars lose three to free agency 2022-12-01
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, Ill. (Dec.1, 2022) - Midfielders Danielle Colaprico and Morgan Gautrat as well as forward Rachel Hill have informed the Chicago Red Stars that they do not plan to re-sign with the club. The three became ...

Gay News

Bulls, Blackhawks lose; Lightfoot-Fire FC link 2022-12-01
- The Chicago Bulls (9-12) fell to the Phoenix Suns (15-6) 132-113 in Arizona on Nov. 30, dropping the Bulls to 12th in the Eastern Conference. Phoenix now leads the Western Conference. Devin Booker scored 51 for ...

Gay News

Chicago Sky announces 2023 schedule 2022-12-01
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — The Chicago Sky announced its schedule for the 2023 season, the WNBA announced on Wednesday. It marks the 27th season for the WNBA and the 18th for the Chicago Sky franchise. The WNBA ...

Gay News

Chicago Bulls beat Jazz; Abreu leaves White Sox 2022-11-29
- In Salt Lake City on Nov. 28, the Chicago Bulls (9-11) beat the Utah Jazz (12-11) 114-107. The Bulls' DeMar DeRozan led the team with 26 points as the Jazz suffered their fifth consecutive loss, according ...

Gay News

Bears, Blackhawks lose big 2022-11-28
- The Chicago Bears (3-9), without starting quarterback Justin Fields, lost to the New York Jets (7-4) 31-10 on Nov. 27 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Jets quarterback Mike White threw three touchdown passes in his first ...

Gay News

WORLD Church of England, World Cup news, court rulings, Justin Trudeau 2022-11-27
- The Church of England is defending the scrutinized guidance for its 4,700 primary schools on LGBTQ+ issues, claiming that it doesn't allow students as young as 5 to self-identify as the opposite sex, The Christian Post ...

Gay News

Illinois thumps NU in Wildcats' season finale 2022-11-27
- In college football, Northwestern University (1-11) concluded a woeful season by losing to the University of Illinois 41-3 on Nov. 26, finishing with an 11-game losing streak after edging Nebraska in Dublin, Ireland in the Wildcats' ...

Gay News

Fields hurt as Bears lose; 'Hawks fall; NU field hockey; Loyola 2022-11-21
- Nov. 20 was a long day for Chicago sports teams. In Georgia, the Chicago Bears (3-8) fell to the Atlanta Falcons (5-6) by a score of 24-21 on Nov. 20 as the Bears' dynamic starting quarterback, ...

Gay News

Blackhawks get crushed; NU's futility streak continues 2022-11-20
- Taking on the nearly invincible Boston Bruins (16-2-0) at their home, the Chicago Blackhawks (6-8-3) were routed 6-1 on Nov. 19. Boston's win extends the Bruins' home winning streak to start the season at 11 games, ...

Gay News

Bulls lose to Magic as LaVine is benched; NU women's field hockey 2022-11-19
- On Nov. 18 at the United Center, the Chicago Bulls (6-10) lost to the Orlando Magic (5-11) by a score of 108-107. Coach Billy Donovan benched Zach LaVine (who only had four points) for the final ...

Gay News

Chicago debuts new rugby team 2022-11-18
- On Nov. 17, officials from Major League Rugby announced that a new franchise named the Chicago Hounds will begin play in February 2023, per a press release. At the news conference in downtown Chicago, the league ...

Gay News

Red Stars update roster; Blackhawks, Bulls lose; Hossa's thoughts 2022-11-17
- The Chicago Red Stars have updated the status of the club's roster as the team prepares for the 2023 season. With 13 players already under contract at least through next season, ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.