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Patrick Burke speaks about players lending support to You Can Play Project for gay athletes

Mar 4, 2012, 11:59 AM EDT

Patrick Burke

By now hockey fans are familiar with the story of Brendan Burke, son of Leafs GM Brian Burke. Brendan was the first man in hockey to come out to his team as a homosexual while working as a coach at Miami University. The acceptance shown to him by his team and his family was a heartwarming story for all who have fears of doing the same and where the You Can Play Project gets its starting point.

You Can Play is getting support from a number of NHL players and showing their support through a PSA you’ll see later today on NBC’s game of the week between the Bruins and Rangers. Patrick Burke is a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and one of the co-founders of You Can Play and Burke tells PHT that the aim of the project is to make the locker rooms and arenas safe for gay athletes.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of the issues LGBT athletes face. I don’t think enough people are aware just how hard a locker room can be on gay athletes of all ages,” Burke says.

Filming a PSA that features Patrick and his father Brian along with 12 NHL stars helps serve notice that the league is serious about breaking down the barriers for those that want to enjoy sports. Featured in the spot are Rick Nash, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf, Corey Perry, Andy Greene, Duncan Keith, Daniel Alfredsson, Brian Boyle, and Henrik Lundqvist. That’s a lot of fire power and there’s more help on the way.

“We’ve got 35 guys committed to the filming so far with 30 guys I believe now have been filmed,” Burke says. “We’re hoping that as other guys see the PSAs and see what we’re all about that more and more of them will find ways to get involved to show their support.”

It won’t be easy at the start, and we’ve seen instances this season where the kind of language they’re hoping to eliminate from locker rooms is out there, but with what the You Can Play Project is trying to do, Burke says their aim is to teach and not vilify.

“We’re about education. We’re not about anything else. We’re not about punishment or vilifying or making enemies. We’re just here to show people what the issues are and how best to combat them,” Burke says.

So it’s like teaching through kindness then?

“Yeah… Well, we’re still the Burkes so we’ll drop the gloves if we have to.”

Here’s video of the PSA you’ll see during this afternoon’s tilt between the Rangers and Bruins. You can read up more on the You Can Play Project at their website or follow them on Twitter.

  1. firstandonlywarning - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    One of the few likable things about Burkie

    • drewsylvania - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      Was just about to write “As much as Burke is a (blank), it’s great to see he and his son doing this.”

  2. bruins2011 - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Burke was a great kid, may he rest in peace

  3. lumas101 - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Nice job! I look forward to seeing this ad on TV and I hope it pays off league-wide and nation-wide.

  4. tampabayirish - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Nice PSA. Now if Burke can only find some players who “can play” for the Leafs.

  5. capsrockva - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    The link appears to be broken. An error has occurred. please try again later, both on youtube and this site

  6. thraiderskin - Mar 4, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    It is incredibly telling that pro-hockey is the first to jump on this train. These are the type of things that makes hockey more accessible to the public, showing that to achieve competitive victory, your abilities are what matters. It is a damn shame that the top three sports in the United States can’t find a way to send a similiar message, they’re to busy worrying about playing games in London, steroids and guarranteed contracts.

  7. superross - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    I think in 2012 being a gay athlete shouldn’t be an issue. However Leafs fans should stay in the closet!

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