Patrick has spoken with both Cam and the Devils’ organization and has been assured by everyone involved that this his slur was a one-time event. Cam participated in a radio show where the hosts did their best to draw him into making offensive jokes, and unfortunately he took the bait.
Patrick explained to Cam at length the values that You Can Play stands for, the effect homophobic slurs can have on gay athletes, and the importance of professional athletes being role models in this regard. Having spoken with Cam, we believe his apology to be sincere, we believe he is now aware of the issues involved, and we believe that he will do his best to change his vocabulary going forward.
As for the New Jersey Devils, they have been proud supporters of You Can Play from day one, with two of their players being featured in our PSA’s. we am absolutely convinced that the words and actions of Cam are inconsistent with the values held by the Devils’ franchise. Our work to change the culture of sports is making great strides, but as we have seen, it is a slow process. Our policy when incidents such as Cam’s occur remains the same: we favor education over punishment, forgiveness over hatred, and patience over outrage. We prefer to work with the players and teams involved to ensure that they become aware of why homophobic slurs are so dangerous in locker rooms. Having spoken at length with him this morning, I am confident that we will not hear another homophobic word out of Cam’s mouth for the rest of his career. Perhaps Cam will let us down. We don’t think he will, but the possibility remains. That still would not change our approach.
Athletes have been raised in a culture that encourages, if not celebrates, casual homophobia. Changing their habits is certainly necessary, but it is not easy. We simply must give athletes a chance to learn, to grow, and to be educated on these issues. We must never condone the private or public use of these hateful slurs. But we must also be constantly aware that for many athletes, they do not see the full extent of the hate these words carry. We remain convinced that we are on the right track. Over 50 NHL players have pledged their support for the You Can Play Project. The NHL offices and individual team management have been universally supportive of our cause. We have sparked numerous discussions on the issue of homophobia in sports. Incidents like this will continue to occur- if they weren’t happening, we wouldn’t be necessary. While we anxiously await that day, we will continue to condemn the use of homophobic slurs by athletes at every opportunity. And we will continue to pounce on every opportunity we get to educate athletes about this issue. That is the only way to ensure that real change will occur.
You Can Play Project