Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman, Brooks Orpik, is the latest NHL player to join a number of NHL players and the “You Can Play” Project to film another If You Can Play, You Can Play public service announcement (PSA).
The “You Can Play” project was started by Patrick Burke to honor his late brother, Brendan Burke. Brendan Burke was Patrick’s younger brother and the son of Toronto Maple Leaf‘s general manager, Brian Burke, and was killed in a tragic automobile accident back in 2010. Prior to his death, Brendan was trying to spread the word of tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality in the hockey world at Miami (Ohio) State where he was a student manager and video assistant for the men’s hockey team. The initiative is Patrick’s tribute to his brother and to continue his valiant efforts.
“If you can play, you can play” is a simple statement with a powerful message especially when it’s coming from super star players like Orpik, Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators), and Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens).
The “You Can Play” mission statement from the official webpage:
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.
You have to commend Orpik and the Penguins organization for taking part in this initiative. I’m not certain whether or not Orpik was chosen or he volunteered to be part of the PSA and this project, but it was a good choice either way.
To learn more about how you can help promote equality and respect in sports OR to donate to the cause, visit the “You Can Play” webpage.
Stephanie Lewark is a featured Pittsburgh Penguins columnist for RantSports.com. If you enjoy her articles / posts, you can follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her personal Facebook page (via Networked Blogs), visit her personal Tumblr page, or stop by her Pinterest page.