1:51 Edit: Still going for another hour here. I've been sorting by "new" and responding, so a lot of answers are buried lower in the threads.

2:30 Edit: Half hour to go. Genuinely amazed at how many people think locker rooms are like the scene in Porky's, and not disgusting, unhygienic places that everyone wants to leave immediately. Watch less porn, guys.

2:55- Calling it a day to hop on a conference call. Thank you all for the questions. I hope the answers were good enough. Again, some got buried so if you felt I ignored an issue, it might just be lumped in with some other comments. Thank you all for the support of YCP. Keep an eye out this week for some big time new videos that we're excited about.


Proof: https://twitter.com/BurkieYCP/status/301343455081283584

It's been almost a year since You Can Play launched and I did an AMA talking about our mission, our story, and our goals. One year in and we are very excited about the work that's been done. Just today we released a new "You Can Play" video from the Ohio State Men's Hockey Team: http://youcanplayproject.org/videos/entry/you-can-play-the-ohio-state-university

We've formed partnerships with leagues and college conferences to ensure equality on their sports teams and safety in their arenas. We've worked with well over a hundred professional athletes who support gay teammates. We've marched in Pride Parades alongside professional athletes. We've had dozens of college and professional sports teams step up and say they will make their locker rooms welcoming and inclusive environments. We've dealt with those situations when athletes say something stupid and homophobic. We've spoken to pro teams, college teams, and high school teams, both men's and women's. A lot has happened regarding LGBT equality in the sports world in the past year, and we are proud to have played some role in that, along with a lot of our friends.

And now I'd like to answer your questions as best I can. About You Can Play especially, but I'm also happy to answer questions about pro sports in general, or hockey. Some questions I can't answer for professional reasons, but I will do my best to get to as many as I can.

Website: www.youcanplayproject.org Twitter: @YouCanPlayTeam and @BurkieYCP Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/You-Can-Play/123764227733045?ref=ts&fref=ts Video page: http://youcanplayproject.org/videos/index

Comments: 948 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

chillsy235 karma

Hey Burkie, how did you feel about JVR toe-dragging Luke Schenn last night?

BurkieYCP324 karma

I was out scouting the Beanpot last night. Had to find more talented young players to keep our playoff streak alive.

phone_scissors_pen104 karma

I understand some of these words.

BurkieYCP657 karma

Hi, hockey ambassador here. JVR is James Van Riemsdyk, a player currently playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Until last summer, James played for the team I am employed by, the Philadelphia Flyers. We traded James straight up for Luke Schenn. Last night, the Flyers played the Leafs, and JVR made a move called a toe-drag (in which the player extends his stick with the puck, then quickly pulls the puck back towards himself using the toe-end of the stick) around Luke. Obviously this one play proves that the trade was a disaster and I should be fired in shame.

Kaizen428157 karma

Hey Patrick. Great cause. I love telling people about this project, especially when they inquire about my You Can Play tshirt.

  1. There seems to be less of a stigma for female athletes who are out. I see that a big part of your poject has your message coming from male athletes. Is You Can Play more interested in getting the message out through male athletes or are you looking for female athletes to partnership with too?

BurkieYCP204 karma

We've made female athletes a priority from the start. We're official partners with the CWHL (professional women's hockey), which was our first official league partnership. Our advisory board has many strong female voices. And we've made a priority to emphasize the voices of female athletes in our speaking engagements and videos. Our college videos prominently feature female allies and lesbian/bi/trans athletes. Too many people think it's a non-issue in women's sports, and it's really not. There's still a lot of work to be done.

loveyourground130 karma

As a life long Flyers fan, I'm seriously proud to have you involved with the organization...and I love what you're doing to carry on your brother's legacy.

As for questions...do you have any theories as to why the hockey world has been so receptive to the You Can Play project? Especially in comparison with other sports.

Also, any plans to work with Chris Kluwe from the Minnesota Vikings? He's been such an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage and I think he'd be a great partner for YCP.

BurkieYCP111 karma

Talked about this briefly some other place. Hockey players are just awesome.

I've spoken to Chris many times. Our approach with the leagues was to work from the league level and move down rather than starting with individual athletes. There's a lot of reasons why we wanted to do it that way (and we may have been wrong to do so). But we felt it was for the best, long term, if the leagues have an element of control in what their players are saying and doing and how the league brand is represented on this issue.

NextAccoumt46 karma

If you're curious, Chris Kluwe is also a big Reddit user over in /r/nfl.

They say if you say his name three times, that he'll appear.

BurkieYCP70 karma

I follow Chris on twitter and check in on him on Reddit at times. Really good guy. Funny as hell.

greydawn110 karma

I know I've already asked a question, but I'd love it if you had some perspective on this for me: what's the best way to support a family member who's closeted? It's still a secret to almost everyone, obviously, but I don't want him to feel like it's taboo either.

BurkieYCP227 karma

Be respectful of them. Mind your language. Find ways to be LGBT-supportive. It's a tough line to walk, because every closeted LGBT person has their own journey they have to take before they come out, and it's not up to us to force it.

CJBinATX92 karma

Why do you think hockey and soccer are the first two professional sports to create You Can Play videos? Is there something intrinsic to those sports that makes them more open to LGBT rights?

BurkieYCP197 karma

Hockey and soccer (in the US, at least) do seem to be leading the way on this issue. I think the international diversity of the leagues help (Canadians tend to be very gay friendly, for example). There's almost certainly a large number of socioeconomic factors at play as well. It's an unfortunate truth that minority groups (whether based on racial, religious, economic, etc) tend to have different attitudes towards the LGBT community. We've tried to emphasize adding LGBT people from those groups who can really target our outreach.
Esera Tuaolo, for example, is a gay ex-NFL player who is religious and also Samoan. He's helping us as Special Advisor on Faith and Religion, and will also help with outreach to the many Samoan NFLers out there. Wade Davis, another gay ex-NFL player, works at the Hendrick-Martin Institute, working with inner city LGBT youth. He has tremendous, tremendous insight into how to reach inner city athletes, and will help us on that front.

Jeeonta74 karma

Why is it so hard for athletes to come out of the closet ?

Also, what's your new favourite NHL team now ?

BurkieYCP162 karma

There's a variety of reasons. Some guys don't want to be first and have to deal with all the media attention. Some guys don't want to be a role model. Some guys just want to play sports and not be a "Jackie Robinson" for gay rights. Some are nervous about their teammates' reaction, or about their job security, or about the fan reaction. There's dozens of reasons that may keep a professional athlete closeted, but I think we're rapidly seeing those reasons disappear.

I work for the Philadelphia Flyers. So, them.

Jeeonta36 karma

Do you actually know gay NHLers ?

BurkieYCP203 karma

We have a no comment policy on that one.

quelar69 karma

Which tells me you do. Of course your policy IS the right one, I heavily respect what you're doing (even if you're a flyers fan - fyi Leafs here thanks for JVR).

Having had discussions with the NHLers who aren't out yet, what do you think the timeline is on someone coming out while still playing?

I think it's important as Hockey is fairly Canadian, we are fairly gay friendly, and if Hockey players start coming out then maybe the rest of the world sports can start towards it as well.

BurkieYCP173 karma

I believe within the next 18 months or so we will have an openly gay NHL player. It's time. Our league's ready.

AUSternum62 karma

Hey Patrick! I really enjoy what you've done for You Can Play! I have two questions for you!

  1. Do you think when sports teams receive negative publicity because a single player said he would not be comfortable with a gay teammate, that that response helps reinforce your message? Cam Jansen or that 49ers player who said he would not feel comfortable with a gay teammate come to mind.

  2. What the hell is going on with the Capitals, and what do you think GMGM is going to do between now and the trade deadline?

BurkieYCP102 karma

  1. I think that the responses from the sports world towards comments like Cam's or Chris Culliver's illustrate how far we've come. Ten years ago, those comments would have been shrugged off with no response, or even endorsed by people. Now they're being critiqued and analyzed. It's very encouraging to see.

  2. I love GMGM. I interned for him for a year and actually lived at his house. I can't get into specifics on the Caps for tampering reasons, but George is a sharp guy.

GhostReveries0556 karma

Hey Patrick, I'm a big supporter of the project. Have there been any NHL players who have refused to support the cause?

BurkieYCP246 karma

We have a no-comment policy on whether or not athletes respond. We do not want any athlete to ever feel pressured to participate. Same thing for the teams. We've been asked to endorse email campaigns or Change.org petitions, and we always refuse. I don't want athletes who were guilt tripped into this. I want athletes who are excited about it.

minstumes55 karma

Hey Patrick, you're the president of You Can Play, you're going to law school, and you're a scout for the Flyers. That sounds like a ridiculous work load, how do you balance everything?

BurkieYCP75 karma

I train for the Boston Marathon. Keeps me sane. We'll be making that a fundraiser soon, I think.

Rebelpilot24 karma

As a Hockey Enthusiast and fellow Runner trying to qualify for Boston (3:18:38, so close), I'm glad to hear you raise money for this event! I'd love to donate to your fundraiser when it comes up or (Even better) run Boston for the cause!

BurkieYCP175 karma

I'm just trying to finish the stupid marathon. The first guy who ran this distance died, and then other people went "I bet I wouldn't die doing that!" It has to be the dumbest thing I've ever done while sober.

Might_as_well_joinem49 karma

As a Blackhawks fan I was so proud of Sopel aka catfish bringing the Stanley cup to the Chicago gay parade.

BurkieYCP13 karma

Great guy. Very grateful to him.

damp_panties45 karma

What should I tell people that are hateful towards homosexuals and attribute it to their religion?

BurkieYCP224 karma

I wrote this in response to Torii Hunter's quotes about being uncomfortable around gay teammates because of his religion. Long story short, if you're trying to emulate Jesus, there's no justification for being an asshole to anyone.


aylajoe44 karma

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for doing this AMA and for your amazing work with YCP. I recently attended an Invisible Athlete Forum where you touched on the fact that you set up YCP as an 8 year project because you think that the work will be done in that amount of time or less (I hope you're right!). Can you expand on how/why you picked that time frame? Do you think that homophobia in sports can ever truly be completely eliminated?

BurkieYCP222 karma

8 years is the amount of time it takes for a high school freshman to graduate college. That's why we picked that time frame. Give a kid who was getting out of the 8th grade in 2012 a full 8 years of YCP before he gets out of college.

It's never going to be completely eliminated. Like racism, sexism, or any -ism. Unfortunately hatred and ignorance will always be able to find a home. I firmly believe in 8 years it will largely be a non-issue, however. We will have openly gay athletes in every major male team sport, and it will be common place. Athletes coming out will be a non-story, and openly gay youth athletes will be drafted into pro leagues. At that point we'll have to re-visit YCP and see what we want to do.

I never had any intention of making this my life's work. I do this to honor my brother, and to try to do my best to do some of the work I think he might have done. I do this to give back to the LGBT community who was so good to my brother, and has been so good to our family. I do this because I love sports, and I want everyone to have the chance to experience the joy that I find in the game. I do this because kids are quitting, kids are being beaten up, and kids are dying from this. And I think I'm in a position where I have a story, a voice, a message, and a personality that lends well to being effective at reaching athletes. But my life before my brother's accident consisted of drinking beer, working out, watching hockey, and chasing women. I would very much like to fix this bullshit so I can get back to that.

greydawn44 karma

What's your favourite memory from your time in Vancouver with your Dad? And, can you still recognize Henrik and Daniel after all these years?

BurkieYCP119 karma

I could never tell Hank and Daniel apart. No one could. One of them had a chipped tooth for a while, and everyone was thrilled because they finally knew who was who.

I really loved Vancouver. I was there from 87-92, roughly. The best memory of that time was Gino Odjick scoring on a penalty shot against Calgary. To this day, that was the loudest I've ever heard a stadium. I'm pretty sure he injured himself celebrating.

theycallmemorty44 karma

Do you think the flack Tim Thomas received for not going to the White House with the Bruins hurt your cause at all? The guy basically 'came out of the closet' as a right-wing conservative and a lot of people feel that it was a huge distraction to the team. You've proven the players will support their team-mate, but do you feel that the media reaction (even if positive) might be a problem?

BurkieYCP102 karma

No. Most professional athletes are conservative, politically. Tim's actions had no affect on what we were doing, it simply underscored why we never take on any political issues. They're too divisive. Why give a player an excuse not to join you? We don't endorse candidates, we don't campaign on issues, we don't say or do anything political. The most right-wing athlete in the world can feel just as comfortable working with YCP as the most left-wing athlete in the world.

bhaller12 karma

Is the point of YCP more about tolerance or acceptance- because if it's just tolerance, that stance totally makes sense. If it is acceptance, are you working first towards tolerance and then acceptance?

BurkieYCP28 karma

I'll take tolerance to start. Then we keep moving. If we could get every athlete in the world to say "I'll support an openly gay teammate" and eliminate homophobic slurs, (which would be the basics for "tolerance"), I'd be pretty happy.

brophybf38 karma

First: your work has made an enormous difference to me in my view of atheletes. I'm bisexual, 44 years old, and some of my worst memories was being bullied in high school, always by jocks. Hearing jocks say "If you can play, you can play" is a huge step. I have always equated jocks with being personally physically threatened, and have never liked them -- or sports -- because of it.

My question: there was a scandal with the SF 49ers the week before the Superbowl, when it turned out that 2 of the 4 players who appeared in an "It Gets Better" video had no idea that it was to end bullying specifically of LGBT teens (because LGBT teens have a 3-4x higher rate of suicide than other teens, among other things). Their responses to a reporter's question indicated they may not have done the video if they had known it was targeted to LGBT teens. The video was subsequently removed from the "It Gets Better" site. Watching it, I can see that neither of the two make any reference to LGBT status; and I can well imagine that a team PR guy put them in front of a camera, had them read a sterile script, and they had no idea what the recording was for. This made me feel like my rights are being used for sports PR, and that the people there don't really stand behind what they are saying. It makes me question every single "It Gets Better" video, and also the "You Can Play" videos.

So: what re-assurance can you give that the players who appear in "You Can Play" project videos know that it is for gay players specifically, that they back that cause, and are not embarrassed about speaking for equality of gay players?

BurkieYCP58 karma

I spoke with every player that appeared in the original NHL videos and they were aware specifically what it was for and what it was about. In our first couple videos, we did not push the players to say the "magic" words- gay, LGBT, homophobic, etc. This allowed guys to get their feet wet a little bit and allow the league to be comfortable with the idea that NHL players were standing up for gay rights. Now we ensure that athletes are saying gay, or LGBT, or homophobic, or otherwise making a specific reference to the gay community in the videos. There's no doubt about what our athletes are appearing for. If you don't want to take my word for it, here's part 1 of a 3 part series of NHL athletes being quoted on YCP.


SmithFire1329 karma

I love the fact that Brooks Oprik is the NHL representative in commercials for YCPP. Do you have any relationship with Brooks?

Keep doing what you're doing. Great cause.

BurkieYCP59 karma

Brooks is good friends with my brother-in-law Jared. When we approached NHLers, we already had Tommy Wingels and Andy Miele on board, but Brooks was the first non-Miami University guy to respond. He became a bit of a pied piper for us. I could go to other guys who might be hesitating or confused and say "Brooks is doing one." It helped a lot of guys realize they wouldn't be the only one out there talking about this. We've incredibly grateful to Brooks (and his lovely wife Erin!).

sixthmillipede29 karma

I'm sure this will get buried, but hopefully not. I went to Xaverian and your brother Brendan came and gave us a talk about homosexuality. I just wanted to say that your brother changed my life. I'm not gay myself, but ever since I listened to him, I have been supportive of LGBT rights. He was an amazing person and I'm sure that he would be extremely proud that you are continuing his cause.

BurkieYCP14 karma

I appreciate that! Go Hawks.

bleafr27 karma

What steps do you take to get a team to take the pledge? Do they come to you or do you pitch it to them?

BurkieYCP72 karma

Teams have generally come to us. The Toronto Marlies (AHL) originally reached out to us to have a speaker come in and address the team. So I went in alongside Scott Heggart, a gay goalie. We talked to the team for 30 minutes or so and then bounced out. Scott was amazing, as he always is. Afterward the team asked if they could do something more than just make a video. So, we drafted the Pledge for them. The Pirates and the Providence Bruins heard about it, and both called me asking for information. Now Hamilton is filming theirs for release soon. Wilkes-Barre, same thing. AHL teams are really excited about this.

SunsOutGunsOut2327 karma

What do you think is the proper punishment for athletes who use homophobic slurs in a game? I feel like Kobe's punishment 2 years ago ($100,000) was a bad idea just because the fine only teaches him not to use the words BUT not why not to use them. Do you feel that sports leagues need better punishments for those that use these slurs?

BurkieYCP92 karma

Education. I don't care at all if a player is fined, suspended, whatever, as long as there is mandatory, EFFECTIVE, education. Not just some token, bullshit gesture to make it all go away, but real work, with real LGBT athletes.

That said, there should be discipline. My feeling is that as long as the leagues are going to regulate what players can and cannot say in terms of racist/sexist comments, comments about officiating, comments about fans, comments about league officials, etc., then the LGBT community deserves that same protection. If the leagues ever wanted to say "We no longer police anything our players say on or off the field, on any issue, at any time," I'd also support that. Because it would be entertainingly chaotic and a total disaster for everyone.

RedPandaAlex15 karma

Would you like to see players start to police themselves in this regard--so that using a homophobic slur was a reason to drop the gloves even if it wasn't directed at you? How much do you think those slurs are accepted/shunned right now?

BurkieYCP50 karma

I have no doubt that will happen once the first players start coming out. Someone's going to say something stupid and get the crap beat out of them.

theycallmemorty25 karma

Slightly off topic:

You're a scout right? Who would you take 1st overall in the 2013 draft if you had to decide right now? What about 1st overall in the 2014 draft if you had to decide right now?

BurkieYCP56 karma

I'm a pro scout, so I don't do the amateur side of things. I haven't seen those top amateur guys. I would recommend trusting Bob McKenzie on that stuff though- he's pretty plugged in at the scouting level.

janiejones1725 karma

Hi Patrick,

First, thank you for your work with You Can Play. I'm also in law school so I can't imagine how busy you must be.

My question: Do you have any plans to discuss sexism in pro sports? I'm a big sports fan (especially NHL hockey) and I often find the sexism to be really frustrating. It's so normalized that most people don't seem to even question it.

Thank you for your time.

BurkieYCP29 karma

There's some overlap, obviously, between LGBT issues and sexism issues. Pro sports definitely has a sexism problem, and it trickles down to lower levels. I'd support a charity that wants to take that on- I've got 4 sisters who I love more than anything. But it's not really what we're geared up for.

That said, we do our best to take stands on it when possible. We amplify voices of strong female athletes, media members, and front office members whenever possible. We try to do real work with women's sports leagues and groups. We've refused to work with certain pro athletes who have done some of the more egregious examples of sexism. I'd love to see women get more opportunities in front offices, coaching staffs, scouting staffs, even media roles. But it's just not what we're built for.

BZArcher19 karma


First, THANK YOU for your work. I have no doubt that Brendan is honored by everything you have done in his memory.

Do you think the increasing acceptance of the You Can Play pledge by NCAA and AHL teams will help encourage NHL, NFL, and other major sporting league clubs to make their own organization wide commitments to YCP and LGBT rights?

BurkieYCP37 karma

I think that at the one-year mark we've shown that the other leagues can trust us, if they choose to. Things like the Pledge give teams an easy and effective way to hop on board. We've shown we can handle crisis situations like Yunel Escobar or Cam Janssen. We've shown we can handle the PR side of things, the fan relations side, the media side, and- by far the most important- the athlete side.

Addressing athletes isn't easy. You have to be a part of their community before they take you seriously. I've seen some LGBT speakers doing sports outreach who aren't sports people, and it drives me fucking crazy. Some aren't even fans! And you listen to them talk about sports and it sounds so forced and unnatural. They try to make jokes about sports related things, or talk about the locker room culture, and it's just...off. You have to be part of the culture before athletes will listen to you. And with the background our advisory board has, and with my background growing up around the game, athletes relate to our speakers. It's effective because they feel at home.

MLS12217117 karma

Hey Patrick, thanks a lot for doing this AMA. I'm a big supporter of the cause, and you guys are doing a fabulous job.

Have there been any times where you've had trouble recruiting a particular athlete or team to support the cause? If so, how did you handle it? Were you able to change their minds?

Also, you should post proof that it's you in your original post, as the mods here will take down this post without it. A link to your tweet saying you're doing the AMA should suffice.

BurkieYCP44 karma

We've had overwhelming success recruiting athletes. It's reached the point with hockey players where we no longer really recruit guys- they just call me and ask how to get involved.

We have a pretty easy message- support any teammate that's good enough to help you win games. It's something that's very simple for athletes to understand and endorse.

BigMamaBlueberry17 karma

Congratulations on the great work with You Can Play! During the last year, what defining moment made you realize people were really embracing the movement or that you had such a hard road ahead?

BurkieYCP34 karma

The day we sent the emails out to every NHL GM. I was sitting there watching the emails go out one by one and was just thinking "Holy crap...if this doesn't work, I'm going to be the laughing stock of the NHL." There was no turning back, really. If the GMs backed us, we would be off and running. If they thought I was an idiot, I was going to have to try a new line of work. Thank god they backed us.

PassTheSyrup16 karma

Hey Burkie

I know you've got a lot (all?) of the AHL teams on board with the project, how long do you think it will be before you get an NHL team (officially) on board?

BurkieYCP48 karma

I think we can count some of the teams as officially on board at this point, even if they never signed anything. The Canucks marched in Vancouver Pride with me this summer, as an official team event (and my thanks again go to Manny Malhotra, Jason Garrison, and Fin, the mascot, for showing up). They had several players express support for YCP publicly, they "dyed" their rink purple for Spirit Day, and they recently did a feature story on a transgender goalie. The Leafs regularly run our PSAs in-arena and have been working behind the scenes on some LGBT outreach as well.

iantupper16 karma

Hi Patrick.

Just wanted to say thanks for all you have done. I have some friends in the LGBT community so this is a cause that hits close to home. I feel like the hockey community is the perfect sport for us to have our first openly gay athlete.

With comments like that of Chris Culliver in the NFL driving home how far the gap still is. Have you been in contact with the NFL or other leagues to try and get this initiative to the other big sports?

BurkieYCP30 karma

We've spoken with every major professional sports league about getting involved. I think you'll see each league start picking how they want to do their involvement (whether through us, or GLAAD, or Athlete Ally, or StandUp, or GLSEN, or some combination of all of us).

I think the first hang-up we encountered was that the other leagues don't know me. So a 28 year old NHL scout who's still in law school walks into your league offices and says he can run all your LGBT outreach and education initiatives. When I did that with the NHL, our guys knew I wouldn't screw it up. When I did that with the other leagues, it was kind of "Wait, who the hell are you again?"

We're very confident that we have a program and a message that reaches pro athletes, fans, and teams. We're confident we could handle any sort of outreach that any pro league requires. We're also more than happy to work with the other aforementioned groups (who do great, great work as well) if the leagues so desire. We're also fine with sitting it out if the leagues think the other groups do better work. All that matters to us is that the work gets done effectively.

Tiddilion13 karma

How'd you go about becoming a scout?

BurkieYCP31 karma

I started breaking down games with my Dad when I was like 6. When I was 12 I realized I wasn't good enough at hockey to be an NHLer. So I told my family I wanted to be a GM. I started to try to watch games as a scout and analyze players. When I got to college, my Dad put me on to help out in the midwest as a "bird dog". I got fifty bucks a game. So all through college I gave up my Friday and Saturday nights and went to watch games- ND, Michigan, Michigan State, Bowling Green mostly. I sent email reports to the chief scout for him to critique. I also spent time in the front office with the Capitals, working a bit with the coaching staff for the Portland Pirates when Kevin Dineen was there, and I spent a year with the New England Patriots as their chief legal intern. Long story short, I had an in because of my last name. That cracked the door open for me. Then I worked my ass off for the last decade to make sure I didn't waste any of that advantage.

ErnDizzy12 karma


BurkieYCP38 karma

No. He had talked about doing some outreach, and had given a couple speeches, but the idea for the campaign had its genesis after the accident, in an article I wrote for Outsports.com. Actually, what we had talked about was Brendan speaking on gay rights, and me speaking on mental health. I had a long bout with depression that I had to overcome, and we thought going into high schools and sharing our stories might be useful. I put some of that aside in order to focus on YCP in his honor.

The biggest hurdle has been the political, turf war bullshit that goes on behind the scenes with fundraising, advocacy work, speaking opportunities, etc. I don't have the patience for the type of crap that goes on behind the scenes. I don't want to get famous, I don't want to throw parades, I don't get paid for any of this. I want to do the work. Put me and my speakers in front of athletes and let us do our thing. Someone else can take credit, I don't care. I'll be the GE Coors Light NBC Universal speaking bureau if people let me stop playing politics and let us do what we do best- real, effective, practical, outreach.

buckhenderson9 karma

What is your position on transgendered athletes playing in their own gender (sorry, the terminology gets confusing for me). That is, someone who is born a man but identifies female. They theoretically have a physical advantage playing in a women's league. Is that fair? How is this issue handled?

BurkieYCP36 karma

Good question. I'll give you a overly simple response, with the notation for anyone reading this that it is an overly simple and not at all in-depth look at trans issues. We recently added Christina Kahrl to our Advisory Board to help on trans issues.

First, since everyone only seems worried about male-to-female trans athletes, I'll say this: the hormones taken during the transition period mean that transitioning athletes are actually at a disadvantage within a few weeks of starting their transition. It's harder for them to recover, to retain muscle mass, and to be an elite athlete. This is not Ladybugs, where Johnathan Brandeis puts on a wig and is a women's soccer star. This is an intense, deeply personal, and physically trying medical and psychological procedure. The competitive argument simply doesn't hold water.

Second, are we really, really worried about this? I'm pretty competitive. I've been in fistfights over Monopoly games. I once broke up with a girlfriend of three years because she beat me in bowling. I was that kid in gym class who tried too hard. Let's say you came to me and said if you cut off my finger, I could win a Stanley Cup. I'm in. Now let's say you came to me and said you could cut off my dick, but I could win an Olympic Gold Medal in women's soccer. Do we really think there are elite athletes out there saying yes to this idea?

Trans athletes should be able to play their sport as their identifying gender. And they deserve our support to do so.

blurr19749 karma

Will there come a point when YCP will get involved at the recreational and high school levels of sports, or do you feel the organization's focus is better served on a larger stage?

BurkieYCP15 karma

We do some speaking at high schools, and when we get our Playbook up and operational (which took way longer than expected) it will be available to high schools.

ballofpopculture8 karma

3 Questions, two about YCP and one about hockey scouting:

1) Do you find certain sports are more receptive to talking about homophobia, admitting it's rampant, etc. than others.

2) Do you find certain areas of the world respond differently? A baseball played from PR vs a hockey player from sweden?

3) (multiquestion, sorry) Has Moneyball changed hockey scouting at all? Do you use advanced metrics, or is more your eyes than anything else. I know in baseball there was a lot of pushback between what eyes were telling people and what computers were telling people. How do you attack the game (other than being where the puck will be)?

BurkieYCP22 karma

At the college level, every athlete listens and responds well to us, regardless of the sport.

There are absolutely cultural differences for international players. We learned that with Yunel Escobar and his discussions with us about Cuban culture.

I know some teams that use advanced stats, but unlike in baseball (where each individual play is a set event), the chaotic nature of hockey tends to limit their value. And the ones that I've looked at tend to do a poor job translating from CHL-AHL-NCAA to the NHL. In addition, our game is so emotional and based on passion, work ethic, and desire. Different players serve different roles on a team, and building a great NHL team for an 82 game NHL season and 25 game playoff run isn't as simple as finding 22 guys with great Corsi or whatever.

BurkieYCP46 karma

I look forward to seeing that last sentence in a blog post about what a Luddite I am, by the way.

esonge8 karma

Is Burkies Dog House still a thing at the ACC?

BurkieYCP8 karma

I guess it's just a Dog House now, apparently. I've never actually had one. Big disappointment. Like never getting to see Chicago Stadium.

TheJustin727 karma

Hey Mr. Burke, how do you personally feel when guys like Culliver from San Fran, and Torri Hunter from Los Angeles Angels (now Tigers I guess) make homophobic remarks using the public platform.

I know you, or anyone, can't control this...but how do you feel it affects what you and others are setting out to try to accomplish?

And does it anger you, or do you just want to try to help those individuals get past their closed minded ignorant ways?

For my hockey specific question...do you agree with me that young d-men with potential are the trade chips in the league at the highest premium? And if you do agree, do you expect that to be consistent looking into the future? Or will there be a changing of the guard in that accord?

BurkieYCP9 karma

I get angry, I get annoyed, and then I move past that and start working on finding a positive outcome. Some players are actually homophobic. Most players are actually just uneducated or unfamiliar with the issue, so they say stupid things some times. As a group that works on educating those athletes, I can't hold grudges. I have to give the athlete the benefit of the doubt and work with him to talk him through the issue, then set him to work making things right. Anger is unproductive. I constantly try to remember the quote by Lincoln- "I destroy my enemy by making him my friend."

v1be7 karma

Who do you think are favorites for the Cup finals this year?

BurkieYCP21 karma

I kind of have to say the Flyers, don't I? Otherwise I think I get fired. Lots of good teams out west. Any team from 1-10 could be a Cup contender. Come playoff time it will come down to health, really.

unremarkablydull6 karma

Thanks for doing this Patrick.

I was curious what the YCP stance is on Kiss Cam videos. In most cases they end with the camera focused on two teammates from the opposing team, and I've had gay friends (and straight) who found it to be in poor taste since it made the idea of two guys kissing into a joke.

BurkieYCP16 karma

We're working on it now, actually. For exactly the reasons you stated.

novajjavon26 karma

Where/when did you decide "I'm going to do something about this" in regard to homophobia? Alot of people just ignore or complain.

BurkieYCP47 karma

My brother's wake. I made some promises to him then.

Backdrifts326 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! What's your opinion on the shortened season, do you think the Stanley Cup champions of this season will win it with a little * next to their name? Also, as an STL fan I've been really bumming over this recent 0-4-1 streak, do you think every team will hit a little slump like that this season or do you think with it being so short there is a possibility for teams stay hot the whole way through?

BurkieYCP10 karma

A season is a season. No asterisk. Everyone is playing the same length. If one team was playing 48 and everyone else was playing 82, sure, use an asterisk.

Hildingding6 karma

If you could change one rule in the NHL, what would that be?

BurkieYCP21 karma

I think we need to find a way to punish the rats in the game. We have too many guys who are loudmouth, cheap shot, dirty players and don't back it up. Too many guys in our game treat the linesmen like the Grinch with the Whos- they hear them coming and their heart grows three sizes.

Two ways to fix this. One is a modification on the instigator penalty to allow for guys like this to get the crap beat out of them. Almost certainly never going to happen. I'd like to see some sort of Cumulative Asshole Penalty. Right now guys have figured out they can be a little bit obnoxious after every whistle as long as no one act reaches the point of a penalty. I'd like to see referees empowered to give an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for actions that build up over the course of the game. Either that or hire slower linesmen.

67Sound4 karma

Patrick, you told me last week on Twitter to ask you about the value of one-dimensional fighters in this AMA. To be clear, I'm talking about guys like Colton Orr, not Shawn Thornton (let alone Milan Lucic).

BurkieYCP9 karma

Here we go. On fighting in hockey:

Fighting is one of the most valuable parts of hockey. There's a reason 98% of players want to keep it in the game. It keeps guys in line, it maintains a level of respect in the game, and it can be used for emotional lifts for teams. I watch on twitter and every time someone does something cheap people say snarky comments about how the tough guys are useless, completely ignoring the idea that those things would happen way more often without tough guys in the game.

As for one dimension guys, they're starting to fade out. And there are some super-heavyweights in the league who generally do nothing because the other team is instructed not to fight them. But you mentioned Lucic and Thornton. Boston dresses both of them and Chara every game. And you need someone in your lineup every night who is willing to stand up to them and say "our team won't be pushed around." Some writers think that doesn't matter, but it does. And you can see it in your team when they play scared. Every team would be able to counter Zdeno Chara with their own 6'9 Norris Trophy winning heavy weight. Or Lucic with their own 6'4 30 goal guy. If there were 30 of each of those guys, there'd be no more one dimensional goons. But since those guys are few and far between, guess what? You need a big man in there to protect your stars, or your stars get pissed.

I see a lot of hockey games without fighting- college, prep school, etc. And the cheap stuff is insane. I'm amazed more kids aren't seriously injured at the college level. Fighting allows a level of policing not possible in other sports.

ChromeBoom3 karma

Have you been in contact at all with Major League Baseball teams, affiliates or players?

BurkieYCP8 karma

Yes, we have. I think we'll be doing more with them going forward, or at least I hope to. We handled the Yunel Escobar situation for the Blue Jays, and the Jays have been in touch since. We'll be doing some things for and with them in the near future.

TeeKay0073 karma

Is there any particular athlete or organization you'd like to have part of the campaign?

Do you feel having too big of a fish (a la Crosby, Ovi, Lundqvist) would be viewed as a PR stunt and be a total distraction to the goals of the campaign?

BurkieYCP4 karma

We'll use any athlete, really. Lundqvist was in our first PSA.

TiSpork3 karma

There are MANY amateur GLBT hockey players and teams around the world, and even some GLBT hockey leagues. I'm one of them (Goalie), have played on GLBT teams, and have participated in some GLBT hockey tournaments a few times.

Have you approached any amateur hockey teams that are predominately GLBT, either to get them involved or aware?

BurkieYCP7 karma

We work with the Chicago Gay Hockey League, the NYC Gay Hockey League, G Force Sports, the Cutting Edges (Vancouver) and the Toronto Gay Hockey League. So, yes.

Fisticuffs133 karma

Great cause and glad to see it's still going strong and the support is becoming more abundant. Thanks for doing this second AMA. Just a couple questions for you.

1) Have you ever considered presenting the You Can Play ideal to the National Lacrosse League? I'm just a bit north of Toronto, and here hockey and lacrosse go hand in hand really, so it seems like it would be an easy transition.

2) Have you met much opposition specifically from religious groups, or religion-based arenas? I don't mean to spark a religion debate at all with this but am curious since there is an arena in my area with such a base that has apparently been used rather often for practice by the Leafs.

BurkieYCP5 karma

1) Yes, check the website either this week or next for the videos from the NLL. I forget what day they go, but we've had tremendous buy-in from them.

2) No, because nothing we do contradicts any mainstream religious teachings. We don't do any work on things like marriage equality, for example. All we ask is for athletes to say they will treat their teammates with respect whether they're LGBT or straight. Kind of tough for religious groups to argue with that. We also make sure we are always, always treating religion with respect. We recently added Esera Tuaolo as Special Adviser on Faith and Religion to make sure that we are respectful and inclusive of the many Christian athletes out there.

Ron_Burgandy_3 karma

Hi Patrick. Has an athlete ever said that they would be uncomfortable with a gay person seeing their genitals? If so how did you respond?

BurkieYCP5 karma

The shower question comes up during talks a lot. There's a pretty shocking level of arrogance behind that statement. "Oh of course gay guys are going to check ME out." And of course the same athletes have zero problem dropping their towel when female reporters walk in. It's a non-issue, in my mind.

michaelcolestie-6 karma

Why is the homo agenda so forceful in pushing lgbt acceptance down the populace's throat?

BurkieYCP12 karma

Because gay teenagers are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teenagers, and I don't think kids dying because you're an asshole is any way for the world to be.