Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Invite Tim Thomas To Walk

I really want to commend the work of a few individuals today who have taken an active approach in the You Can Play initiative started by Brian and Patrick Burke. As you may be aware, Brendan Burke was Brian's son who tragically lost his life in an automobile accident. Brendan had told his family, his college teammates on the Miami-Ohio RedHawks, and the world that he was gay in 2009. Brendan's bravery and courage in announcing to the world and, in particular, the macho scene in hockey was celebrated across the spectrum. After he lost his life, Brian and his son, Patrick, honored Brendan's bravery by starting You Can Play, an initiative that not only encouraged gay individuals to participate in sports like hockey, but where they would find teammates who respected them and would support them regardless of sexual orientation.

Manny Malhotra and Fin the Orca of the Vancouver Canucks announced today that they will walk in the Vancouver 2012 Pride Parade on Sunday along with Patrick Burke and the Vancouver Cutting Edges, an all-gay men's hockey team. Not only do I applaud Malhotra for stepping forward in being an advocate for You Can Play, but I also applaud him for doing so as a member of the community.

"I am excited to be a part of it," Malhotra said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. "I don’t feel race, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation should be the deciding factor on how you judge somebody. And especially in sports. Personally, sports for me is designed to be all-inclusive, to incorporate people, to form unity, to form a team. I don’t think any of those factors should segregate people from being a part of it."

Malhotra actually becomes the third player to walk in a pride parade this season after San Jose's Tommy Wingels and Vincent LoVerde of the ECHL's Ontario Reign both walked in the Chicago parade on June 24. Patrick Burke, a scout for the Flyers, also participated in last month's Toronto parade, and this will be the second parade for him this season.

"Having a well-respected warrior in Manny stand up along with Henrik, Daniel, Ryan, and dozens of other NHLers around the League gives hope to young LGBT hockey players everywhere," Burke said to The Canadian Press.

I, for one, would encourage any and all Canuck fans to head out on Sunday and walk with Malhotra, Fin, and Burke to show solidarity for the You Can Play cause. Honestly, does it really matter if someone is gay any longer? Aren't we past these walls yet in this day and age? If you're in Vancouver, put on your best walking shoes, and get out there and be a Canucks fan without prejudice.

And if Boston ever holds a pride parade, perhaps one of the Bruins could invite Tim Thomas to walk to show him that he's no different or better than anyone else when it comes to walking. In fact, I'll bet a lot of people would change their tune about Thomas if he showed up to walk and offered an honest apology. It's the little things that could make the biggest difference.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't hold my breath that Thomas would even consider going. His stance has been pretty clearly laid out. However, as long as players like Manny Malhotra, Tommy Wingels, Vincent LoVerde, Dustin Brown, Alec Martinez, Dustin Byfuglien, Tanner Glass, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, and many others continue to knock down the walls for all athletes regardless of sexual orientation, players like Tim Thomas will become the minority.

And that's good for everyone.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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