September 20, 2012 | by Steve Charing
Caps player joins ‘You Can Play’ campaign
Matt Hendricks of the Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks to record public service announcement for project meant to encourage LGBT youth to join athletics. (Photo by Michael Miller via Wikimedia)

Last week, the Washington Capitals and forward Matt Hendricks announced their support for the “You Can Play” project, an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.

Hendricks joins many professional and amateur athletes from around the world to speak in support of You Can Play by recording a public service announcement focusing solely on an athlete’s skills and work ethic rather than sexual orientation.

Launched earlier this year, the project uses video testimonials from a growing group of players in the National Hockey League. You Can Play’s primary goal is make the environment safer for a gay pro athlete to come out—not just in hockey but all sports—pro and amateur. The theme is, “If you can play, you can play.”

“I’m honored to join many other athletes and show my support for You Can Play,” said Hendricks. “I believe in equality for all people, and everyone should be able to be given a fair opportunity to compete and play the game they love.”

From Blaine, Minnesota, the St. Cloud State alumnus made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche before signing with the Washington Capitals. The Avalanche and the Capitals both have nominated Hendricks for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport.

The video featuring Hendricks can be seen on YouTube.

“We share a platform with a number of the project’s goals of erasing intolerance and promoting equality, including programs founded by other athletes,” Brian Kitts, a co-founder of the project, told the Blade. “You Can Play is different in that the partnership is between gay and straight allies, and that the focus is solely on changing the culture of sport. We don’t ask our supporters or video messengers to take a stand on marriage or workplace equality, for instance. We’re specifically trying to change the culture of locker rooms and arenas.”

For more information on You Can Play, visit youcanplayproject.org.

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