LOS ANGELES (June 1, 2018) — The Los Angeles Valiant announced today the formation of a social change partnership with the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring safety and inclusion for all who participate in all sports — including LGBTQ+ players, coaches, and fans. You Can Play has found prominence with support from the athletes and leaders within traditional sports organizations, such as the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer. The LA Valiant are the first esports organization, franchise, or team to join the social change movement.
“For too long, the esports industry has been unfairly characterized as a toxic, unwelcoming environment,” said LA Valiant CEO Noah Whinston. “This assumption runs counter to the core values of the Los Angeles Valiant organization and our partnership with the You Can Play Project further cements our dedication to making the LA Valiant an inclusive community. The message is simple: no matter who you are, who you love, or what gender you identify as — if you can play, you can play.”
In 2012, You Can Play was launched by Patrick Burke of the NHL along with Brian Kitts, a sports and entertainment marketing executive, and Glenn Witman of GForce Sports. Brendan Burke, brother of Patrick Burke and son of Brian Burke, a longtime NHL executive, made international headlines when he came out as gay in 2009. A few months after coming out, Brendan died in a car accident and You Can Play was founded in his honor.
“You Can Play is honored to have the LA Valiant as our first esports partner,” added Ryan Pettengill, Executive Director of You Can Play. “They are an organization committed to promoting diversity in and around esports; we are happy to be a part of that effort and so appreciative of their support.”
As part of the partnership, You Can Play will provide diversity and inclusion training to LA Valiant players, coaches, and organization staff. The team will film a PSA to promote awareness of the You Can Play initiative among the esports community. You Can Play will have a presence at select Valiant events for fans to interact with and learn more about the organization and their initiatives. When the LA Valiant move to their home arena in 2020, You Can Play will help facilitate “Pride Night” events.
Additionally, the LA Valiant will sell pride-themed iron-on Valiant Pride Patches at store.lavaliant.com throughout the month of June. A portion of the proceeds will go to the non-profit You Can Play Project and help deliver educational and awareness resources to sports communities of all ages to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion. The Valiant Pride Patch will make its debut in competition on Saturday, June 2 when the LA Valiant play the New York Excelsior at 3 p.m. PST.
Fans have two opportunities to receive the limited edition LA Valiant Pride Patches for free: Saturday, June 9, at Blizzard Arena and Sunday, June 10, at Gym Sportsbar in West Hollywood as a part of the Be Valiant: LA Valiant Pride Party.
About the Los Angeles Valiant:
The Los Angeles Valiant are one of two Los Angeles-based franchises in Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League, which began play in January 2018 as the first esports league to feature local market affiliations for its teams. The LA Valiant are owned and operated by Immortals, LLC, a global esports organization based in Los Angeles. Founded in 2015, Immortals has raised strategic investment from AEG, Lionsgate, the Milken Family, and Steve Kaplan. Immortals competes in leading esports titles including CS:GO, DOTA2, and Super Smash Brothers as well as mobile esports Clash Royale and Arena of Valor in its newly created Immortals Mobile division. Immortals and the LA Valiant strive to create a long-lasting community of professional gamers, aspiring players, and passionate fans, united by a commitment to competitive excellence and a welcoming environment for all. For additional information: www.LAValiant.com, www.facebook.com/LAValiant, and follow on Twitter: @LAValiant.
About the You Can Play Project:
You Can Play works to ensure safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans. You Can Play believes sports teams should focus on the athlete's skills, work ethic, and competitive spirit, not their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. More information about You Can Play can be found at youcanplayproject.org.
B/HI, on Behalf of LA Valiant