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The Cup to Parade with Pride

Photo Credit: Ludovic Bertron, Wikipedia Commons

June 22, 2010 was a momentous day for the Chicago Gay Hockey Association (CGHA).  This was the day that the NHL and the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks responded positively to their invitation to participate in the Chicago Pride Parade.  While having the Stanley Cup in a parade is not unusual, having it in a Gay Pride Parade is unprecedented.

When the CGHA submitted their request, they were hopeful, but not expectant.  Instead of the expected polite brush-off, they were thrilled to learn that the NHL and the Blackhawks had accepted their invitation.  With this acceptance, the NHL took a step in the right direction for professional sports with respect to attitudes towards gays.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

While it may seem to some that it is simply a case of damage control for the ‘Hawks after the ‘Pronger is Gay’ incident, it can primarily be seen as a progressive stance against homophobia in sport.  Brent Sopel and his family will be participating in the parade alongside the Stanley Cup and members of the CGHA.  He has stated that not only is he taking part to support acceptance, but that he is also honouring the legacy of the late Brendan Burke, the openly gay son of Brian Burke, GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Photo Credit: Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame

There are those who believe that social issues should not be mixed with sport.  But a great deal of socialization occurs and a fair number of our children’s role models arise from sport.  When acceptance comes from within the professional sporting bodies themselves, when the athletes themselves can accept each other for who they are, then we have taken a great step towards acceptance in society as a whole.

Kudos to the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks for stepping up and being the sort of role models our society needs.

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