The Effect Of "You Can Play"

My link in the FTB seemed to be broken, so I thought I would just re-post my article on here, to share it with the PPP community. You can check out the original, and my other works at This doesn't really have much to do with the Leafs, but it deals with a hockey issue.

To start this post off, you should probably read two early articles of mine to set you up for this one:

If you're a hockey fan, then you have probably heard of "You Can Play." Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and his son Patrick started the project known commonly as YCP to eliminate homophobic discrimination, especially in sports. The genesis of this project can be easily traced back to Brian’s son and Patrick’s brother, Brendan Burke. I’ve written about him a few times, and still he remains a role model to this day. When he was involved with Miami University's hockey team, Brendan came out to the entire team and coaching staff. It resulted in a flurry of news broadcasts, culminating in an emotional TSN interview with Brian and Brendan, father and son. Seeing someone involved in sports come out publicly finally put a focus on discrimination in the sacred grounds of sport. Hockey, in particular, is viewed as a tough, rugged, manly game. It’s a game where players use homophobic slurs on a daily basis. It is likely not a place for a gay person to comfortably come out. But one did . And to be perfectly honest, such an act probably took way more courage than what any hockey player has ever done.

After Brendan passed away in 2010, the YCP campaign began. A multitude of active NHL players spoke out in favor of accepting openly gay members in hockey. Networks broadcast YCP commercials widely throughout the season, which sparked conversation among hockey fans. Discussions concerning the issue pop up frequently, which is something hockey personnel haven't seen in quite some time. As a 20-year-old yet to find a single person in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario, who doesn't use gay slurs as an insult on a daily basis, a campaign of this magnitude is a huge deal. It feels like the hockey community should be getting closer to the time where this won't even be an issue. However, it still feels too far away. Like Annie sang, "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love you, tomorrow. You’re always a day away" – That's how I feel right now. No matter how far we’ve come in eliminating bigotry in hockey or other sports, it never feels like the goal is close. So many people say horrible things when someone even mentions the word "gay." Brian and Patrick Burke marching in the Gay Pride parade in Toronto? "Burke shouldn't be supporting gays in public, he should be in his office doing his job," you’ll hear fans say. It saddens me, but only to a point. It’s pity I feel the most for these people. I feel sorry for someone who goes through life with so much anger and hatred that they can't even allow a man to support his deceased son's life and legacy.

Recently, a friend from high school sent me a message on Twitter. He asked what I thought about You Can Play, and told me how he viewed it as something great. It puts a smile to my face to know that this campaign is reaching people through its message, especially people who don't usually pay attention to matters like this. It shows the power and effectiveness of uniting people who have the potential to make an incredible impact for a worthy cause. Getting rid of homophobia isn't as impossible as one may think. Sure, it can take years or decades, but it starts with you. Whenever a friend or someone you’re with makes a homophobic remark, stop them. Let them know it's not okay to say those things under any circumstance. Restrain yourself from saying things like "That's gay" (a tough goal, I know). When something becomes less and less acceptable socially, then it starts to go away. That's how society works. If you don't believe me, pick up a book (one of those old things made of paper, mostly, with separate pages that have text on them) and read up on your history. Public racism has largely evaporated from North America (save for some unsavory areas), and sexism has taken big hits as well. It's possible – don't get discouraged – and sooner or later, we'll have openly gay NHL players. In the words of Kurt Angle, "It's true, it's damn true."

I know I'm nobody important or special. I'm not really someone who views himself as a strong writer, just a person who writes for fun. But I beg of each and every reader who goes through my blog, please make it known that you support equal treatment for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. I understand that it's difficult to make a stance like that, but please, step up and be a human being with compassion instead of hatred. You will probably find that it ends up not being that hard. If tough hockey players can do it, you certainly can as well. Just do it!

Information about You Can Play can be found on its website here: . It's a cause worth supporting, so please do. Also, if you happen to read this and would like to ask questions, or just need someone to talk to, email me at:

Mission Statement for You Can Play;

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. is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of

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