Brendan Burke Hub

High School Student Athletes Fight Homophobia in Sports: VIDEO


Back in November 2011 I posted a video of Andrew Goldstein, a former Dartmouth Lacrosse player, and David Farber, a former captain and leading scorer of the hockey team at the University of Pennsylvania, both of whom came out to their teams while in college, speaking about homophobia in sports at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts.

Andrew just forwarded me a video made by the school's student athletes and athletic director as part of Brian and Patrick Burke's 'You Can Play' project. Theirs is a good example of how exposure to out athletes can help younger people become more proactive in fighting homophobia in sports.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Patrick and Brian Burke's 'You Can Play' Project: VIDEO

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It was just over two years ago -- on February 6th, 2010 -- that the youngest son of Toronto Maple Leafs owner Brian Burke died in a weather-related car accident in Indiana. That young man, Brendan Burke, had publicly come out of the closet just three months earlier. At the time, the elder Burke told ESPN:

I had a million good reasons to love and admire Brendan. This news didn't alter any of them. I would prefer Brendan hadn't decided to discuss this issue in this very public manner. There will be a great deal of reaction, and I fear a large portion will be negative. But this takes guts, and I admire Brendan greatly, and happily march arm in arm with him on this. There are gay men in professional hockey. We would be fools to think otherwise. And it's sad that they feel the need to conceal this. I understand why they do so, however. Can a gay man advance in professional hockey? He can if he works for the Toronto Maple Leafs! Or for Miami University Hockey. God bless Rico Blasi! And I am certain these two organizations are not alone here. I wish this burden would fall on someone else's shoulders, not Brendan's. Pioneers are often misunderstood and mistrusted. But since he wishes to blaze this trail, I stand beside him with an axe! I simply could not be more proud of Brendan than I am, and I love him as much as I admire him.

After Brendan's death, the elder Burke vowed to take up the cause of ending homophobia in hockey. To that end, Brian and another of his children, Patrick -- a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers -- have initiated the "You Can Play" project.

Take a look at the first of the project's video offerings, featuring a line-up of NHL All-Stars, which premiered during the intermission of yesterday's Rangers-Bruins game, AFTER THE JUMP...

Or visit the project's website. I think Brendan would be pleased.

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Watch: CBS Sports Honors the Late Brendan Burke


In a touching CBS Sports segment, Miami University hockey players and coaches remember Brendan Burke, who made international news with his coming out story, and died a year ago in an apparently weather-related car accident in Indiana.


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Remembering Brendan Burke

It's been on year since the death of Brendan Burke, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs and U.S. Olympic Team General Manager Brian Burke, who bravely came out publicly in 2009 to everyone in the NHL and the world. Burke was tragically killed just a few short months afterward. His family has maintained the pro-gay attitude that Brendan helped ignite.

6a00d8341c730253ef0120a6d61cae970b-800wi "It has been a striking symbol to see big, burly Brian Burke, who uses words like 'belligerence' and 'truculence' when he talks about building his team, marching in the Pride Parade in Toronto, attending a Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays dinner in New York, meeting with former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue – whose son, Drew, is openly gay – in Washington to talk about how they can work together on the issue."

"Brian Burke has declined interview requests concerning Brendan, a Leafs spokesman said. But his son Patrick, a Philadelphia Flyers scout, told the Ottawa Sun: 'As a family, if a player comes out, we don’t want it to be for Brendan. We want him to do it for himself. The fact that Brendan was really the one who, in the hockey world, kicked off the discussion, that would be a very proud thing for us. The day Brendan’s goals are realized will be a very happy day for us.'"

It was because of Brendan that the Stanley Cup was included in a gay pride parade.

Just this week at least one NHL player has vocalized his support for an openly gay teammate. Sean Avery told the Toronto Sun: “I’ll stand beside him in the dressing room while he tells his teammates he is gay. Maybe if Sean Avery is there, they would have less of a problem with it.”

GQ Posts Great Piece on the NHL and the Courageous Burke Family

Whatever you read today, make sure it includes this great piece about Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, his son Brendan who died earlier this year in a car accident, and Brendan's brother Patrick, all of whom behaved heroically as Brendan came out and later lost his life, far too early.

Writes Mary Rogan in GQ: Brianburke

In the past thirty years, Burke has blistered through the ranks of NHL management, including a stint as discipline czar for commissioner Gary Bettman. "When he was working for me," Bettman recalls, "there was a picture of him in his office from when he played for the Maine Mariners, with blood all over his face and uniform. I knew this was a good, smart, tough guy with no b.s. about him."

But now the combative G.M. had taken the biggest hit of his life. Lying on the side of the road was his 21-year-old son, who had stunned the hockey world three months earlier when he'd come out as the first openly gay man closely connected to the NHL. Listening to the sheriff's voice down the line, Burke could see Brendan in the snow that was still falling, surrounded by strangers who didn't know a thing about him. He must be so cold, Burke thought, and he could see the furrow in his brow that Brendan always got when he was worried. He could see the paramedics give up and step away, and already ticking in the background were those ten seconds of knee-buckling fear.


As he tells this terrible story, Burke is sitting in the expansive backyard of his Toronto home, which overlooks one of the city's most beautiful ravines, maneuvering his cell phone on the patio table to show which way Brendan's car was facing when it crossed the center line. His voice is a low moan as he chokes out the words and lurches his way through the details. At his feet, on the weathered deck, are wet blotches from the tears he can't slap away fast enough. "Brendan died alone in the snow," he sobs. "And it haunts me that the last ten seconds of his life were filled with terror."

As heartbreaking as that last paragraph is, it's really an empowering, beautiful piece that shows a father's dedication to his gay son, and the changes they made together.

Out on the Ice [GQ]

Video, Photos: Stanley Cup Shines in Chicago Gay Pride Parade

(photo by hockey broad)

Chicago Blackhawk Brent Sopel gave some extra shine to Chicago's Gay Pride parade yesterday, accompanying the Stanley Cup on its first-ever appearance at any Gay Pride event. Hockey Broad has a nice report.

Watch videos of the Stanley Cup in the parade and a Feast of Fun interview with Sopel, AFTER THE JUMP...

Cup Sopel, who is married with four kids, rode in the parade in honor of Brendan Burke, who died earlier this year in a car accident after breaking barriers in the hockey world by discussing his sexuality in Sports Illustrated with his father, Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke

Said Sopel: "When Brendan came out, Brian stood by him, and his whole family stood by him, like every family should. We teach our kids about accepting everybody. Tolerate everybody, to understand where everyone is coming from."

In a post-parade interview with Outsports, Sopel said: I had a great time, way better than I expected. It was more (fun) than I expected; it was a blast. Everyone was fun, everyone was dancing. But, at the end of the day, I hope it raised some awareness. I wasn’t here to advocate (anything), but if coming here helps break down walls in the meantime, so be it. I was here for Brendan. I hope he is smiling (from heaven). He was a very unique individual. For him to come out, and then die a few months later …when you’re a parent and you have to bury a kid, it’s just heartbreaking.”

Watch videos of the Stanley Cup in the parade and a Feast of Fun interview with Sopel, AFTER THE JUMP...

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