“If you can play, you can play.”
That’s the mantra and namesake of an international initiative launched in March aimed at ending homophobia in hockey.
You Can Play was created by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke (son of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke) in honor of Patrick’s brother, Brendan, who passed away in a car accident in 2010. Brendan notably came out in 2009 while in post as the manager of the Miami of Ohio hockey team.
The mission of You Can Play is simple –
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.
– and yet the mission is difficult in reality. Challenge the preexisting culture in sports? Yikes. But with professional athletes on board, not to mention an entire college hockey team (see below), things are moving in a direction where this seems possible.
You Can Play – The Faceoff
Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins:
Cal Clutterbuck, Minnesota Wild:
The UCONN Men’s Hockey team is on board with the Captain’s Challenge. Head coach Bruce Marshall said wanting to participate in the videos came from the players, not the university. UConn is one of eight total teams that have joined the initiative as a group.