Chipping at hockey's barriers -

Chipping at hockey’s barriers

Brian Burke’s openly-gay son undermines stereotypes within the sport


Here’s a hockey story you don’t see every day. A lot of ink has been spilled about Brian Burke and his Stanley Cup ambitions, especially since he became president and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But ESPN’s John Buccigross has captured another side of the man—proud father of an openly gay son. Brendan Burke, a 20-year student at Miami University in Ohio, came out to his family two years ago, and the university hockey team he helps manage this past spring. Now he’s speaking out to a wider audience, and challenging a sport that is frequently hostile to homosexuality. Brian Burke says he loves his son and admires his courage. And the Leafs’ honcho is backing up his talk: this past summer he and Brendan attended Toronto Pride together.


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Chipping at hockey’s barriers

  1. Frankly, I do not understand why someone's sexual orientation would have anything to do with their hockey play. Are gay hockey players banned from playing somewhere or otherwise discriminated against? If not, why is this even a story?

    • Seriously? Because kids on sports teams and in gym class are called names if they even seem SLIGHTLY outside the macho "ideal" that teenagers think is correct, based on what their parents and TV and Hollywood tells them.

      It's a story because it's a hockey guru who kids and adults can look up to (well, if the damn team would just start winning) and maybe, just maybe, reconsider their assumptions about people who are different. And then, if we're lucky, maybe let their kids grow up to be anything, and not try to force them into the wrong role.

      I love hockey. But I never played. I don't blame being gay, but I certainly don't think I would have shared with my teammates my sexual orientation very easily, precisely because this is still an issue.

      • Agreed about the cruelty of kids toward anyone who seems different, and also agreed about the value of a role model.

        However, it seems to me that being called names is part of growing up.

        • It sure is. Doesn't make it right.

          In school we teach kids to get along. We teach them about different cultures and identities and beliefs and so forth. We even (despite ranting) teach to a tiny extent about sexual orientation so that less GLBT teens kill themselves (one study showed 30% of suicide attempts were related to sexual orientation angst and stress).

          But on sports teams and in more macho environments, we don't do as well in promoting amity and diversity. We ought to do better.

    • "or otherwise discriminated against"

      Yes, very much so. Next question?

  2. Great story. Scary comments (like most comment-allowing news sites, of course).

    • Were some comments deleted? The only comments showing are yours and mine.

  3. Sorry no, I meant on the ESPN site. The commentary at Maclean's is, even at its worst, quite relaxing compared to most sites. I hope every day it stays that way! :)

    • Amen bro.

  4. Yes, you won't get any argument from me about how badly gay (or perceived as gay) teens are treated by other kids. If it's even worse on sports teams then I see your point.

    • It is, anecdotally at least, worse on sports teams. But the real problem is that homophobia is such a pervasive and normal part of (male) sports culture that it's very difficult to determine how badly gay teens are treated on sports teams, because they don't come out. Anti-gay talk and insults in the locker room leads to an environment where gay players are just afraid to come out, which isn't the case in very many fields these days. Not one male professional athlete in North America has come out during his career. None. Fundamentalist preachers are more likely to admit to being gay. A few players have come out after retiring, but that's all. Until that starts to change, this kind of thing is still, sadly, a story.

  5. We are letting the girls play the game, why not the gays?

  6. hey im 17 and play hockey in minnesota on my high school team … which here is very very competitive … im also gay n toly in the closet. the whole sport is very anti gay wit prety much the biggest slam that neone can say gainst u being stop playin so gay. i plan to play at a division1 college n dont plan on coming out till im dun unless somthin changes big time. so yea i hate bein in the closet n lyin to everyone but hate it even more that im not strong enough just to be out.

    i started a blog awhile ago n b4 doin this never even really knew ne gay hockey players, its cool to see that there are someout there.

    just my opinion.