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Hockey Is For Everyone
April 12, 2013 8:29 AM   Subscribe

The National Hockey League Players' Association and the National Hockey League recently advanced their commitment to make the NHL the most inclusive professional sports league in the world by teaming up with the You Can Play Project (previously), an advocacy organization fighting homophobia in sports. The organization was created by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke in memory of his brother, Brendan Burke. Less than a year after it was created, You Can Play has addressed some recent instances of homophobic comments from professional athletes in the US. They also have put together a number of videos, presented on their YouTube channel, or on the You Can Play website.
posted by filthy light thief (27 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The first time all year I've been proud to be a Flyers fan.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"This will be transformative for our sport. When we lock everybody out, we mean everybody", said a spokesman for Gary Bettman. "Gay, straight, bi, transgendered. Nobody will get on that ice, regardless of orientation. And that's a great thing."
posted by boo_radley at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


This is a near double, I'm pretty sure.
posted by hoyland at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2013


Previously.
posted by hoyland at 8:49 AM on April 12, 2013


Has anyone come out of the closet yet? There has to be some number of gay players.

Weird that this is one of the last bastions.
posted by pmv at 8:56 AM on April 12, 2013


This is the first time ever that I'm proud someone is a Flyers fan.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a near double, I'm pretty sure.

The news is that the NHL and NHLPA have officially teamed up with You Can Play, and the NHL and NHLPA are actually doing something other than saying "we support this group". From the first link:
The official partnership with You Can Play includes a significant commitment to education and training for teams, players, media and fans plus the production and broadcast of more public service announcements.

...

You Can Play will conduct seminars at the NHL's rookie symposium to educate young prospects on LGBT issues. In addition, You Can Play will make its resources and personnel available to each individual team as desired.

The NHLPA and NHL also will work with You Can Play to integrate the project into their Behavioral Health Program, enabling players to confidentially seek counseling or simply ask questions regarding matters of sexual orientation.
You Can Play was covered previously, but I included some of that background here to include more context in this post.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2013


Mark Tewksbury, who is a former gold medal Olympic swimming for Canada and perhaps our most prominent gay athelete spoke on CBC yesterday about this. he said that as a Board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation, he had been approached a number of times by professional hockey players who wanted to come out and make public announcements. He said that in every case, there was a last minute cancellation by the player, and the process never happened.

The NHL is to be lauded for this move - much as I have long since given up on the league in other matters. However, there is still a long way to go to make the climate safe enough that a player can feel comfortable being openly gay and having a career. Locally here, the Vancouver Giants junior hockey team have gone some way to addressing this climate issue by sponsoring anti-bullying initiatives and not shying away from that being about homophobia as well. I suspect the biggest challenge will be the fans.

I don't know about hockey, but for local soccer, The Vancouver Southsiders, a supporters group I belong to don't tolerate homophobic slurs and chants at Vancouver Whitecaps soccer matches, which doesn't stop it completely, but at least with the bulk of the supporters section largely intolerant of that kind of abuse it makes it easier to turn to someone and confront them when the use homphobic or racist language (as I have done on occaision). It would be great if hockey fans would adopt this code of conduct as well. Racism seems pretty well unacceptable at most hockey games now, but three letter f-words still litter the stands.
posted by salishsea at 9:18 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Has anyone come out of the closet yet? There has to be some number of gay players.

There are some great gay rights advocates in major sports, and there's rumblings of a gay US football player who might come out in the near future, but there are no openly gay athletes who play major sports in the US, as far as I know. There openly gay people in minor leagues and in colleges, and some athletes have come out after retiring. You Can Play isn't trying to ease athletes out of the closet, but make sports more open to people at all levels of play, though I can see efforts like this one making an atmosphere where athletes can come out with more comfort.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:24 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was happy the Canucks had Manny Malhotra, Jason Garrison, and their mascot Finn marching in the Pride Parade last year, and that Finn found time to snack on a reporter.
posted by mannequito at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cool...the Whitecaps are also pretty gay positive as an organization. Last year Lee Nguyen, a reasonably good player used a homophobic epithet in a tweet and was roundly criticized for it. He was eventually traded from the squad, probably on merit, but I'm sure that tweet didn't help his case.

At any rate, this thread is about hockey, but I think it is useful to pojnt out that despite the NHL's announcement, there is a lot more path breaking happening in other pro sports. Swimming, tennis, figure skating, vollyball and other sports have a much longer track record of openness and a somehwat safer climate, although they don't always share the spotlight or the hetro ethos of ice hockey, football or rugby.
posted by salishsea at 10:04 AM on April 12, 2013


futhering what filthy light thief said - there's a chance that 4 NFL players will come out on the same day to reduce the scrutiny on any one player.
posted by nadawi at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


there's a chance that 4 NFL players will come out on the same day to reduce the scrutiny on any one player

Teamwork!
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2013


Thanks for sharing that link, nadawi. I hadn't heard of the four-at-once plan. That's a brilliant strategy!
posted by troika at 10:49 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


NFL Trains Security Team in Case a Gay Player Comes Out.
posted by ericb at 10:52 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anderson Cooper Talks to Brendon Ayanbadejo About the '4 Players', Being an Ally, the 'F' Word, and His Sexuality: VIDEO.
posted by ericb at 10:54 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Times are Changing in Pro Sports
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:42 AM on April 12, 2013


UCLA is having Ally Week and NFLers Brendan Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe (of "lustful cockmonster" fame), both UCLA Alumni, did a spot to encourage LGBTQ allies to come out!
posted by Sophie1 at 12:16 PM on April 12, 2013


See, this discussion thread is what I love about MetaFilter. It pulls together a wide variety of related subject stuff on the interwebs under this one topic.

I have to say, personally, the idea of major league sports finally becoming gay supportive makes me much more Winning The Big Fight tingly-all-over than the gay marriage thing does.

Gay marriage is great and all, but it's not the end of the fight. Social acceptance is still a long way off, and the struggle is going to continue for a long time to come in a lot of arenas. That sports might be one of the next dominos to fall after the military tickles me.

(Also interesting that it's happening in the NFL first, not MLB. Also, 4 at once... no brave soul to be the Jackie Robinson of Major League Gay Players?)
posted by hippybear at 3:57 PM on April 12, 2013


Regarding Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford's role in the new film 42 (which I am so looking forward to watching), Ford who plays Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, the man who brought Jackie Robinson on as the first African-American player in Major League Baseball said in a recent interview:
Q: Do you see any parallels between Jackie Robinson’s struggle for racial acceptance and the current battle for marriage equality?

A: I think there’s a metaphor you can reach for, according to your own interests and your own understanding and your own issues. ... Certainly the marriage issue conveniently falls into that category.

It’s remarkable how quickly opinions on it have been changing over the last few years.

Yeah, things do change quickly at a tipping point, as it builds and it builds and it builds until there’s a moment where the balance of opinion, the weight of experience and the understanding comes to a point where the scales tip in the other direction. We’re getting there, we’re getting there. You know, you would hope that it would have happened with less resistance. You would have hoped that everyone would get the point at the same time, but life’s not like that.
posted by ericb at 4:55 PM on April 12, 2013


(Also interesting that it's happening in the NFL first, not MLB. Also, 4 at once... no brave soul to be the Jackie Robinson of Major League Gay Players?)

I'm inclined to view baseball as more conservative than the NFL, but I have far more exposure to baseball than football. I think, also, that football's product is the NFL itself, but baseball's product is much more the individual teams and that matters to how interested the respective leagues are in stage-managing a coming out. If the NFL can find four gay players on four different teams willing to come out together, this is a massive boon for them because those players will be on TV in a big chunk of the country and people watch games that don't involve 'their' team. Baseball has fewer nationally televised games, there's less parity between the teams, meaning a handful gay players distributed randomly could all end up on teams no one but their fans wants to watch and people (or no one I know anyway) don't really go out of their way to watch games involving teams they don't support.

At any rate, this thread is about hockey, but I think it is useful to pojnt out that despite the NHL's announcement, there is a lot more path breaking happening in other pro sports. Swimming, tennis, figure skating, vollyball and other sports have a much longer track record of openness and a somehwat safer climate, although they don't always share the spotlight or the hetro ethos of ice hockey, football or rugby.

Of course, hetero ethos or no, Ian Roberts and Gareth Thomas came out in rugby to no real ill effect. I suspect that the fact they're the only two means rugby is still not the most welcoming sport ever for gay youth.
posted by hoyland at 5:19 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I applaud the effort but aren't they still on strike?
posted by incandissonance at 6:49 PM on April 12, 2013


I applaud the effort but aren't they still on strike?

No, not since January. And it was a lockout not a strike.

/obligatory left-wing pedant.
posted by hoyland at 6:50 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was a strike by the owners against the players.

Sorta the same, sorta different.
posted by hippybear at 7:00 PM on April 12, 2013


Sure you can play hockey if you're gay... and huge, and from somewhere such as Finland, Canada or Russia.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:51 PM on April 12, 2013


"I think, that posterity will look back upon what we are doing today in our domestic issues here. They will look back upon it, I think, with incredulity and they'll wonder what the issue was all about. I really think so." - Branch Rickey

Not so much of a stretch, Harrison.
posted by dry white toast at 8:30 PM on April 12, 2013


Gay Former NBA Exec Rick Welts: Nike Hungry to Sponsor Openly Gay Pro Athlete.
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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