Pioneers join effort in support of gay athletes
July 31st, 2012
In June, the University of Denver Pioneers became the latest athletes to join the You Can Play Project, releasing videos in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.
DU's videos were among the first made by colleges after the project launched in March. You Can Play kicked off with a series of hockey-based videos featuring NHL All-Stars saying that shooting, scoring and other skills are important, while sexual orientation is not. DU's videos—featuring the hockey, men's and women's basketball and gymnastics teams—were filmed on campus in early spring.
Co-founded by sports marketing executive and DU adjunct professor Brian Kitts (BA '83, MA '86), You Can Play is a Denver-based nonprofit organization promoting respect for all athletes based on talent, skill and determination—not sexual orientation or gender identity. The project also has input from Glenn Witman, a Denver-based real estate developer and founder of the GForce Sports elite gay hockey program, and Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers.
You Can Play was founded in part to honor the memory of Patrick's younger brother, Brendan, the openly gay student manager of the Miami University hockey team.
When Brendan was killed in a car accident shortly after coming out, Patrick and his father, Brian, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, dedicated themselves to erasing homophobia in sports. Patrick teamed up with Kitts and Witman to form the project.