Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Broken News: Former NFL Player Davis to Head You Can Play

There was some news that came out earlier this week that you may not have heard about, or cared about.  Sports news, that it.  This news is unlikely to have popped up on your score ticker and unfortunately did not break through A-Rod’s stranglehold on the media spotlight.  No, you probably missed it.  But it is important – very important – news that you need to know.

Wade Davis has been named Executive Director of You Can Play.

Davis played in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans and Washington.  After struggling to make it through training camp and off of the practice squad, Davis retired due to injury.  After his playing career was over, Davis came out publicly that he is gay.
Even though he was finished with the NFL, he did not let the status of being a former professional athlete go to waste.  Davis started a media company, InMotion, and has enjoyed a career as an LGBT activist.  He has had work published on websites like Outsports, Huffington Post, and New York Times.  Davis has spent nearly three years working with inner-city LGBT youth.

Patrick Burke is the brain behind You Can Play.  Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, put the idea into motion in 2011 after his openly gay brother, Brendan, was killed in a car accident.  Burke wanted to continue the legacy that his brother had begun.

Since 2011, You Can Play has become one of the most well-known activist organizations for the LGBT community in sports.  They counseled Toronto Blue Jays’ shortstop Yunel Escobar after he wrote a homophobic slur on his eye-black.  You Can Play has also begun a groundbreaking partnership with the NHL to provide training and seminars in various LGBT related areas.

Over the past year, You Can Play has been linked in a mentoring role to a group of potentially four professional athletes that were planning on coming out at the same time. 
Although he is stepping down as the public head of You Can Play, Burke will remain heavily involved in the organization’s planning and vision.  Davis, Burke says, is the only man he would trust in the position.

The news may not have made your radar, but it should have.  It’s important – very important – news.  What Burke has accomplished in a little over two years is remarkable and the room for growth is still tremendous.  In order to continue improving the climate for the LGBT community in sports, groups like You Can Play are invaluable.  Like it or not, with leagues partnering with LGBT activist groups, the conversation is here to stay.

Now it is up to Wade Davis to continue the conversation that Patrick Burke started.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

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