With the Bruins long gone, and the Celtics still stumbling forward, I won’t be watching much of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals. But when I do look in on the quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup, I’m hoping to see a nationally televised commercial/PSA from the You Can Play project.
You Can Play is a series of video spots of various hockey players saying that if you can play, it doesn’t matter if you’re gay. “You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation,” reads their mission statement. “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.”
The first PSA, which featured such notable players as Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Perry, Claude Giroux, and others (see video below) was released during this season’s All-Star Weekend, with the promise of more to come.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara participated in a spot as part of the Captain’s Challenge, which calls on captains to use their on-ice, and locker-room leadership to stand against homophobia.
And now You Can Play is moving from the pro ranks to the college level as well. Just south of the Valley, the UConn men’s hockey team filmed a You Can Play video, inviting LGBTQ athletes to consider playing at UConn.
And just last week, Boston’s Northeastern University posted a You Can Play video on behalf of their entire athletic program, in support of their LGBTQ athletes and fans, as well.
History is still waiting for the first athlete from one of the four major sports (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB) to come out while still playing. But with more and more athletes from more and more sports speaking out for marriage equality, and participating in the It Gets Better and You Can Play projects, momentum is trending toward increased support and acceptance of all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation. Creating a sports culture where, as You Can Play says, gay athletes and straight allies team up for respect.