The NHL, NHL Players Association and the You Can Play Project have agreed to a groundbreaking partnership, the league, players’ union and gay/lesbian rights advocacy group announced Thursday.
The agreement, the first of its kind between You Can Play and a North American professional sports league, will see YCP implement an agenda of inclusion throughout the NHL that promotes better understanding of and respect for homosexual athletes and creates an environment where no one is judged based on their sexual orientation.
The YCP Project was founded in March of 2012 and has been incredibly successful in creating awareness of gay athletes in sport. But for Burke, whose late brother Brendan Burke provided the inspiration for his group, it is particularly touching to have hockey’s best league be the first pro sports operation to take the next step in the battle.
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.
The You Can Play Project, founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke, celebrated its one year anniversary on March 4, 2013. From its inception, it has had tremendous support from the hockey community and beyond. Professional players Tommy Wingels and Andy Miele, and former NHL General Manager Brian Burke all serve on You Can Play’s Advisory Board. Over 100 professional hockey players have voiced their support for gay teammates and have been joined by athletes from numerous sports representing approximately 20 NCAA organizations.