RED DEER – If you can play, you can play.
It’s that simple for those involved with the You Can Play Project.
The You Can Play Project began as an effort to continue the work done by Brendan Burke, son of Brian Burke, the president of hockey operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Brendan Burke, who came out as an openly gay man in 2009, died in an automobile crash in 2010. Brendan’s brother Patrick, along with Brian Kitts and Glenn Witman began the You Can Play Project to continue Brendan’s work to eradicate homophobia in the National Hockey League (NHL) and beyond.
“Every day we’re out there trying to make sure that all athletes are judged based on their heart, their talent, their character, not their sexual orientation, not their gender identity,” said Witman. “Just be a good teammate, and we want you on the team.”
In 2012, You Can Play officially launched their partnership with the NHL by releasing a video called “The Faceoff”, featuring numerous NHL players, with the goal of the video to “carry on Brendan’s legacy, and ensure that LGBTQ+ athletes around the world are afforded equal opportunity; judged only by their talent, character, and work ethic in their sport.”
Along with the NHL, You Can Play has partnered with numerous other leagues and corporations. The National Football League, Canadian Football League, National Women’s Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and others help make the You Can Play Project initiatives possible, such as Pride Night collaborations and the development of educational platforms.
“(These partners) are the bread and butter of You Can Play. You need to have ambassadors and people that understand our mission that are out there trying to spread the word,” said Witman.
You Can Play encourages everyone to get involved as an advocate, ambassador, or volunteer. They have an excellent collection of resources on their website that can help educate players, coaches, parents, and teams about the importance of safety and inclusion for all LGBTQ+ athletes.
To contact You Can Play, please click here.