The You Can Play initiative started by the Burke family has a simple message that should resonate with everyone who hears it: if you can play, you can play. In hockey, nothing else should matter, and they have created a number of PSAs with NHL stars stating that this is the case. According to these videos, the only thing that matters is how well you play the game. Race, country, and creed don’t matter and, most importantly for the Burke family, neither does sexual orientation.
Ryan Kesler has now joined the lengthy list of NHL stars lending their names to the You Can Play initiative, speaking up for those who may fear speaking up for themselves. He appears in a PSA with former Canuck Tanner Glass and former pain-in-the-Canuck Dustin Byfuglien.
The You Can Play initiative specifically asked for Kesler to contribute according to Patrick Burke, who initially got to meet him when the Canuck centre was drafted by his father.
Kesler was exactly the kind of player they wanted and for an interesting reason. “Guys around the league respect him and respect the way he plays,” said Patrick, “He’s a warrior out there. One of the goals behind the initiative is breaking down stereotypes and there’s this idea that if you stand up for gay rights, then you must be gay. We want to fight that.”
“We want to make it so no one says that, no one questions it. No one says, ‘Oh, he did a PSA for gay athletes, he must be gay himself.’ A warrior like Ryan and the other guys who have been involved with us and who are happily and openly in committed relationships with women, it provides a little different dynamic.”
Evidently, Kesler is so overtly straight that he was the perfect man for the job.
I appreciate the message and intent of the You Can Play initiative, but I especially appreciate how focussed they have been with their message. As Patrick made clear in an interview with Canucks Army’s Thomas Drance, they have no interest in political battles, such as those over gay marriage. “Treating your teammates, fans and coaches with respect, and not using homophobic slurs are the only things we ask.”Tags: Kesler is so straight, Kesler takes this very seriously, Ryan Kesler, you can play