Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Newsflash: Brian Burke Does NOT Eat Kittens.

So John Buccigross wrote a piece in ESPN today that will be much-discussed for a bit. And it wasn't even about an NHL player.

The piece essentially talks about the difficulty of being Brian Burke's son, especially when you're gay. And working in the hockey business itself.

It's been a long-acknowledged truth in professional sporting leagues that to come out of the closet is to commit career suicide. And the treatment of gay rights in pro sports, particularly those in which what goes on in the locker room nearly as key as what happens on the ice or court or field is pretty superficial. In hockey, there's the comic treatment delivered in stuff like the film Breakfast With Scot.

The only other time it comes up are dark, awkward moments, such as in the interviews the press had with Theo Fleury earlier in the season, where he admitted that one of the demons he had to slay was trying to figure out if he was homosexual. The subtext being, And that wouldn't have been ok. I would never be able to play if that were true. But given the terrible events that did happen to him, this was not really at the forefront. And shouldn't have been.

I hope Brendan Burke's example will be one that provokes thoughtful, reasoned conversation. I hope I don't have to read some random tidbit that talks about bad, bad epithets thrown out in a game with him or some other player who happens to not be straight present.

To echo Brian Burke's words in the piece, I hope one day this isn't even an issue.