The National Hockey League (NHL) recently took a huge step to ensure fair treatment to any potential LGBT players in the future as well as current ones that may not be out by pledging to take initiative to end discrimination. The sports organization has paired up with You Can Play Project, a campaign dedicated to promoting awareness and education such as counseling and public speeches. Here’s more:
“Our motto is Hockey Is for Everyone, and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in the statement obtained by the Times. “We are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands.”
Patrick Burke, president of You Can Play and a Philadelphia Flyers talent scout, expressed how this move represents a huge milestone. In a statement to The Huffington Post, Burke said:
Today marks a historic step for LGBT equality in sports. The NHL and the NHLPA [NHL Players’ Association] are stepping up to ensure that the hockey community is welcoming — not begrudging, not tolerant — welcoming to LGBT players, coaches, management or fans. Now with the culture of the hockey community behind us, we can do the important educational outreach to help everyone know how to be accepting. The NHL has long had a slogan — “Hockey Is For Everyone.” We will work alongside our partners in the NHL and the NHLPA to continue to make that true.
This is a great effort by the NHL to ensure that LGBT players feel welcomed and won’t have to put up with discrimination. It is a great step towards fairness and equality that is inclusive and welcoming, something that has been lacking in major league sports. To say a move like this by a major sports organization is a very big deal is an understatement, yet this is a great moment.
But will this lead to the other major sport organizations to follow suit? We know of the the efforts made by NFL players like Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo but have yet to see the football organization as a collective stand up for LGBT players. This is something they should consider especially with the rumors surrounding the NFL possibly having four players to come out at the same time this year. They always say that they need someone to go first and this move by the NHL may encourage other sports affiliations to do the same.