The National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Assn. on Thursday announced they have formed a partnership with the You Can Play project, which promotes respect for athletes regardless of their sexual orientation.
The league and the players’ association have made a commitment to educate and train players, teams, media and fans that players should be judged for their abilities, not their sexual orientation, and that locker rooms should be inclusive. Many professional and college teams have supported the organization, and many NHL players have appeared in public service announcements that condemn homophobia.
You Can Play was started by Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and son of longtime NHL executive Brian Burke, in honor of his brother Brendan, who was the manager of the Miami University (Ohio) hockey team and came out as gay. Brendan Burke died in a car accident in 2010.
The NHL is the first major professional North American sports league to formalize a policy regarding homophobia.
“Our motto is ‘Hockey is for Everyone,’ and your partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.