I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the Checkers season, and the highs and lows the team experienced over the course of eight months, and of all the wins, a game in Raleigh and the brief but awesome playoff run, the one thing that makes me most proud of the Charlotte Checkers is their allegiance with You Can Play.
On May 1, 2013, I woke up to a press release in my inbox at 6:55 a.m. that the Checkers had released an amazing video that featured fans, players and front office staff of the team supporting the movement, and encouraging Checkers fans to join You Can Play.
This morning, the News & Observer in Raleigh published a piece about the Hurricanes involvement in You Can Play, and the author claims that the Hurricanes are the first professional team in North Carolina to align themselves with the organization, and didn’t even mention the Checkers as being one of the AHL teams to produce a video (but he referred to the Rochester Americans and Toronto Marlies????)
The Hurricanes are the first professional team in North Carolina to support gay and lesbian inclusivity through You Can Play, a Denver-based nonprofit. The National Hockey League and NHL Players Association announced last month a joint partnership with You Can Play, with the motto “Hockey is for Everyone.”
But here’s the thing. The Hurricanes were NOT first. The Checkers were. The Hurricanes did release a 27 second video, but it was after the Checkers released their video before 7 a.m. on May 1, and the Hurricanes video does not come close to the quality that the Checkers staff put together. Here’s a tweet from the Hurricanes Senior Director of Communications Mike Sundheim about the video.
So, I know it’s nitpicking, but it drives me crazy that the Hurricanes are getting positive press about being the “first” North Carolina pro team to support You Can Play, and they weren’t. The Canes don’t even have a press release on their website, and the only mentions of the video are in twitter feeds after the Checkers sent out press releases on May 1. The Checkers should be commended for being the first, and getting the positive press it affords, not the Hurricanes.
At the Checkers playoff game on May 3, I stood and applauded with thousands of other in the arena when the Checkers You Can Play montage was shown on the videoboard. I didn’t care that it’s taboo to applaud in the “press box,” I felt this video deserved my support and so I cheered. Loudly.
So to the Charlotte Checkers, I thank you. I thank you for being the FIRST professional sports team in North Carolina to align yourselves with You Can Play. I thank the athletes who took part in the video (Zac Dalpe, Rasmus Rissanen, Brett Sutter and Justin Krueger.) I thank Tera Black and Michael Kahn for their support, I thank the fans (my friends!) who participated in the video, and the talented front office staff who created the video. North Carolina isn’t an easy state to live in when it comes equal rights for all people, gay, straight or otherwise, so it makes me incredibly proud that the Checkers took a step to do the right thing.
As always, Let’s Go Checkers!