June 12 2012 08:13AM
It was announced several months ago that Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler would represent the Canucks for the You Can Play Project, and record a PSA in support of ending casual homophobia in sports. We've been eagerly anticipating it ever since.
The video, embedded above, dropped today and it delivers. Also, with a cast that includes old nemesis Dustin Byfuglien, and Tanner "scrabble champion" Glass it's actually somewhat Canucks centric.
Read past the jump!
We spoke with Patrick Burke, the President of You Can Play yesterday about the organization's apolitical philosophy, and here's what he had to say about Kesler being an ideal fit for the You Can Play movement:
"He's got all of the things that draws us to want a guy to speak out. The way he plays, the heart, the relentless style, the leadership that he shows, and the respect that he has both within the Canucks organization and around the league. Those are the things that we're looking for in players who are going to be the face of You Can Play."
As for the video itself, "let's change the way the world thinks about athletes," is one of the opening lines, and the message is crystal clear: it doesn't matter what your gender is, it doesn't matter who you hit on at the bar (or on your Dragon Boat team), and it doesn't matter who or what you pray too.
Sports is, at its purist, a meritocratic activity. As fans - we need to aim to be supportive and tolerant of individuals who can play, regardless of who they are, or what they believe. After all, some of the best players in the world, guys like Kesler, Glass, Hartnell, Chara, Lundqvist and Byfgulien would be happy to support and stand with a gay teammate. As Ryan Kesler said when his participation in the project was announced, "It’s the 21st century, people need to get with the times."
The video gets bonus style points from me for having Tanner Glass spell out "LBGT." What can I say, it reminded me of his scrabble champion roots!