The You Can Play Project has announced the addition of three new advisory board members that will expand the organization’s scope and outreach capabilities. Christina Kahrl, a pioneer in baseball stats and sabermetric analysis, joins two gay NFL veterans, Wade Davis, a former defensive back for three teams, and Esera Tuaolo, a defensive tackle who played nine seasons.
At a time when the subject of gay players in the NFL has received extensive media coverage, Davis’ and Tuaolo’s perspectives on the culture of the sport will be tremendous assets to You Can Play’s efforts. As a staff member at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, where Davis works with LGBT youth, his experience is wide ranging and cross-generational. Tuaolo, author of the groundbreaking book, Alone In The Trenches: My Life As A Gay Man In The NFL, and will serve in the newly created role of Special Advisor on Faith and Religion.
“Wade brings truly unique and irreplaceable insight and perspective to our board,” said You Can Play president Patrick Burke. “As a former professional athlete, a gay man of color, and a youth activist, Wade is able to connect with and educate young athletes like no one I have ever worked with before. Esera brings a fantastic athletic background, exceptional work as an LGBT advocate and a deep understanding of faith issues.
“We recognize that religion is important to millions of athletes, and I do not believe there are many people with Esera’s ability to find true joy in sports, religion, and LGBT advocacy,” Burke continued. “We are genuinely honored to be able to call them both part of our team.”
“You Can Play understands the importance of creating and connecting with allies to ensure that all sports are accessible for all who desire to play,” said Davis. “I’ve always believed the vast majority of athletes are against discrimination and prejudice of all kinds and You Can Play is providing athletes with a platform to prove that. As an ex-professional player, I empathize and understand the attitude and mindset of athletes and as a youth advocate, I also understand how sports can influence lives and impact positive life choices.”
Tualo welcomes the opportunity to further his advocacy, saying, “Bridging the divide between sports and faith is critically important. As a former NFL player, I poured my heart and soul into the game and did my best to help make the league what it is today, and I’m very excited to help my fellow gay NFL brothers. I played with a crippling secret that brought on depression, fear, panic attacks and black outs, all nine years in the NFL. My faith got me through and my aim is to make sure that what I went through doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Christina Kahrl, a civil rights activist for transgender issues, is an editor and writer for ESPN.com and a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Her work has been published by Sports Illustrated, Slate and Salon. In addition to her media savvy and encyclopedia knowledge of Major League Baseball and its culture, her own personal story is one conviction and trailblazing. Welcoming Kahrl, Burke said, “From day one of our launch I have been actively seeking a transgender member of the sports community who can guide our work and outreach towards a community too often ignored. Christina’s brilliance in the baseball world, her openness and honesty when discussing her transition, and her tireless advocacy on behalf of transgender youth makes her an exceptional fit for this role. Christina’s leadership will ensure that You Can Play truly provides outreach to every member of the LGBT athletic community.”
“My priorities are twofold, reflecting a balance of my professional commitments and my personal goals,” Kahrl said. “Working within national coverage of Major League Baseball and as a member of the BBWAA, my hope would be to help make it easier for baseball’s first out player to come out. You Can Play’s mission to reach fans and athletes alike, outside of just the LGBT community, is critical. Building bridges with our fellow fans and fellow citizens is critical to the larger mission, so that they understand that whatever your sexuality or gender identity, we hold so much in common, not least enjoying sports.”
Davis, Kahrl and Tuaolo join a diverse group on the You Can Play Advisory Board which is comprised of professional athletes, journalists, and corporate executives from around the sports world. In less than a year, You Can Play has garnered the support of over 100 professional players and coaches, administrators and athletes from dozens of colleges and universities across North America.