NHL Announces Groundbreaking Anti-Homophobia ‘Partnership: ‘Our Policy is One of Inclusion’

The National Hockey League has partnered with the anti-homophobia You Can Play Project, the Hockey News reports:

Bettman“I’m very proud that the National Hockey League and NHL Players Association are the ones taking this step and breaking new ground,” Philadelphia Flyers scout and YCP co-founder Patrick Burke told THN late Thursday morning. “The big shift is that this is a professional sports league saying not that, ‘We tolerate you,’ not that, ‘We’ll deal with it if we need to,’ but that they’re inviting us in. It’s exciting.”

“Our motto is ‘Hockey Is For Everyone,’ and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way,” added NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (pictured). “While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, 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.”

The partnership, which was signed as a legally binding document by the three parties this week, will see You Can Play (a) conduct seminars at the NHL’s annual rookie symposium to educate players on gay equality issues; and (b) integrate YCP’s message of respect for all into the league’s Behavioral Health Program by allowing players to confidentially seek counseling or education. As well, YCP will work with the league to create and broadcast public service announcements promoting equality for all.

More at THN


  1. Francis #1 says

    This is a big, big, big deal. The other major pro leagues, you’ve seen a few players step up, but the league leaders themselves have pretty much stayed silent and so have most of the athletes themselves. But the NHL here has made it clear that, not only do we accept the fact players and fans are non-heterosexual but we embrace them and we welcome them. This is the difference between “support” and truly being accepting. Awesome to see.

    This now puts the other major leagues in a defensive position. The NHL took this comprehensive step for gay equality. The NFL, MLB, NBA, are now officially behind the 8-ball. After all the homophobia from last week slung at Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Clemons/Seattle Seahawks’ missteps, this is a great positive step in the right direction. Thank you, NHL!

  2. Francis #1 says

    Demographics in the NHL are a lot more conducive for LGBT acceptance, too. The league is majority Canadian/European and most of the American players are from the Northeast or Great Lakes (there’s a lot from California too). Whereas other leagues tend to attract ignorant inbred types. That’s probably why leagues like MLB or NFL don’t talk about the gay issue much outwardly. Because they don’t want to alienate the fanbase.

  3. Tom says

    As a guy who loves sports and especially hockey, this is just awesome news. I too think it will be in the NHL, that our first out player will come from.

  4. Francis #1 says

    No, that’s not what I said or was saying in the slightest. Wasn’t at all in my mind, race, and why would it, given several of our strongest supporters have been persons of color. I don’t think that way. MLB is majority white yet is still anti-gay because the demographics are poor. Southerners and Midwesterners. NFL, same way, Southerners and Midwesterners. NHL is mostly Canadians, Europeans and New York/New Jersey/Massachusetts/etc. citizens. Demographics are better. Fanbase demographics are better. NHL tends to attract people who have been exposed to gay people or live in accepting places and thus there is less bigotry.

    BTW, NHL won an ESPN poll questioning which sport is most likely to see a gay player come out first. So the writing is on the wall.

  5. KT says

    This is great news and its amazing how much Patrick Burke has done in honor of his brother. We should all be so lucky to have a brother half as loving as Patrick is.

    The NHL is actually the second major professional league to partner with YCP. MLS also is a partner. I wouldn’t be surprised to oen of the other leagues partner next(though the NFL seems to be more alined with Athletic Ally. If the NFL partners with anyone it will probably be them)

  6. mikro says

    This is great I’m a hockey fan Mr Burke lost his gay son in a car crash if I remember correctly. They were promoting this cause before his tragic death. We love you Mr Burke & family. We love the NHL for this public stance & their commitment to this cause.

  7. Randy says

    I want NHL to disavow the 1977 film Slap Shot, still regarded by most as the “best” hockey film of all time.

    It’s the most homophobic film I have ever seen, and probably contributed to the anti-gay atmosphere in hockey that they are finally doing something about today.

  8. Rick says

    This is a nice gesture, but all this is beginning to look more and more like the actions,crusad of one man–Mr. Burke–out of devotion to his lost gay son more than any kind of sea-change in attitude.

    In fact, it is almost comical that, for all the efforts Burke has made, not a single NHL player has come out–and this in a league where most of the players are from supposedly oh-so-enlightened Canada.

    I am beginning to suspect that either a) there really aren’t any gay players in the NHL–or so few that you can count them on one hand, and/or b) there are quite a few gay players but, despite the encouragement of the powers-that-be, they don’t want to come out simply because they don’t want themselves associated with “gay” and the culture of effeminacy that it implies.

    And (a) above, if true, would be a partial consequence of the culture of effeminacy.

    So that any way you cut it, it comes out the same–the culture of effeminacy is so pervasive that it prevents the development of normal masculinity in most gay men and keeps those who managed such development in spite of pressures not to–in the closet and unwilling to out themselves because of the negative associations they and other men they respect and are respected by have for “gay”.

    Pretty sad and discouraging.

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