Patrick Burke Leaves You Can Play as Advocacy Group Hits Milestone; Brian Kitts Assumes President’s Role with Reaffirmed Commitment to LGBTQ Inclusion in Sports
The You Can Play Project today announced that co-founder and president Patrick Burke has retired from the organization that promotes LGBTQ inclusion in sports.
“You Can Play has never been stronger and our message has never been more important,” said Burke. “I will always be incredibly proud of the work we have done in five amazing years. We built an organization that celebrated and honored the ideals that my brother stood for and we’ve made a lasting mark on the sports world. I look forward to watching how the You Can Play Project and message of inclusion and respect continue that legacy moving forward.”
Brian Kitts will assume the role of president of You Can Play. Kitts, one of the organization’s co-founders, is a Denver-based entertainment marketing executive and professor of sports marketing at the University of Denver.
“Patrick, and his entire family, will continue to inspire a movement that values all athletes and fans for their passion, talent and commitment to sport without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity,” Kitts said. “The five-year anniversary of You Can Play is a good time to thank Patrick for his necessary and vocal opposition to homophobia. And, this is the right time to reaffirm You Can Play’s unconditional commitment to including all athletes and fans, including our LGBTQ family, teammates and friends.”
You Can Play was founded, in part, to honor the legacy of Burke’s brother, Brendan, who passed away shortly after becoming one of the first to come out as gay in college sports. The group will rededicate itself to its mission of making locker rooms and sports venues safe and free from casual homophobia.
“Burkie has really become a role model for those who want to address inequality in sports,” said You Can Play’s third co-founder, Glenn Witman, of Patrick Burke. “His no-nonsense approach has been what athletes need to focus attention on homophobic language.”
You Can Play announced that a search soon will begin for an executive director to lead daily operations of the organization. You Can Play currently does educational work at the college level and has numerous relationships with professional teams including the Canadian Football League, Canadian Olympic Committee, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and others.
In its first five years, You Can Play was recognized for a number of milestones including being the first LGBTQ sports advocacy group to have players from all teams in a pro league (NHL) speak on behalf of LGBTQ athletes, the first LGBTQ sports advocacy group to address the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the first LGBTQ advocacy group to partner with a national Olympic committee (Canada).
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/.
Public Relations Manager, You Can Play