March 4, 2012 by David K. Sutton
NHL ‘You Can Play’ Ad Campaign To Support Gay, Lesbian Equality
A new advertising campaign featuring NHL players began during Sunday’s New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins match-up on NBC. The ad is for the You Can Play Project, aimed at “promoting respect for all athletes.”
You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success.
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 ad features Brian Burke, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and his son Patrick Burke, talent scout for the Philadelphia Flyers along with Scott Hartnell (Flyers), Claude Giroux (Flyers), Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers), Daniel Alfredsson (Senators), Joffrey Lupul (Maple Leafs), Dion Phaneuf (Maple Leafs) and several more current NHL players. In all, 30 players from the NHL are part of the You Can Play Project.
The campaign, called “You Can Play,” aims to combat what its organizers call an atmosphere of “casual homophobia” in locker rooms, in which slurs are carelessly used, creating a difficult atmosphere for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes.
“You’ve got this thing where people don’t think there are, or choose not to believe there are, gay athletes in their locker rooms,” said Patrick Burke, a talent scout for the Philadelphia Flyers who is one of the co-founders of the program.
The first ad for the You Can Play Project: