The four major professional sports leagues in the United States don’t exactly have incredible reputations when it comes to inclusiveness. In fact, none of them currently feature a single openly gay athlete, and in recent years, they’ve battled accusations of alleged homophobia, stories of overt homophobia and even overheard slurs. If the NHL has its way, however, those less than flattering headlines will start to change.

According to TMZ, the NHL and the Players’ Union have partnered together to launch a new program called the You Can Play Project. Founded by Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke whose brother came out in 2007 and then tragically died in a car accident three years ago, the Project will give a presentation at future rookie symposiums and provide an outlet for players to get counseling or ask questions concerning sexual orientation.

Maybe this Project will do a whole lot of good. Maybe it will provide a great place for players to talk it out, and maybe it will help a few people to realize different ways of life are completely acceptable too. Even if it doesn’t, however, at least it’s a sign that the NHL is trying. At least it’s a sign that everyone does have the right to play regardless of who they choose to love.

Bravo to the NHL for taking this first step. Here’s to hoping the league has plenty of happy, openly gay players sooner rather than later.



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