A taboo has fallen in the Professional Hockey League of the United States and Canada.
Luke Prokop became the first player with a contract at an NHL club to publicly declare his homosexuality last week.
The 19-year-old Canadian, a native of Edmonton (province of Alberta), used social networks to announce it.
“Although the last year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me the opportunity to discover my true self.
I am no longer afraid to hide who I am.
Today I am proud to say publicly that I am gay, "he wrote.
See this post on Instagram
A post shared by Luke Prokop (@lukeprokop_)
Prokop said he dreamed of becoming an NHL player as a child and is confident that living authentically will allow him to fully focus on his performances on ice. The athlete thanked the support of family, friends and sports agents; He added that he hopes this announcement will help make hockey "truly for everyone." A defensive player, Prokop was selected by the Nashville Predators in the
He signed a three-year contract, although he has been on loan with the Calgary Hitmen, the Canadian Western League squad.
"His courage is a source of inspiration for us and for the LGBT community in Nashville," said David Poile, general manager of the Predators and architect of the Canadian signing. Gary Bettman, the powerful NHL commissioner, said he was hopeful that these announcements could become more frequent within the hockey community. Players and coaches joined in the expressions of support for Prokop. Also, Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister, wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations Luke! Thank you for speaking your truth and sharing this positive, courageous and hopeful message ”.
For several years now, the NHL has built bridges with the LGBT community. Players from different squads participate in local activities in that community; and they have also used rainbow colored ribbons on their canes. Homophobic insults - like those of a racist nature - are sanctioned with greater rigor by the referees. In turn, the League and its players association have been working since 2013 with
You Can Play
, a campaign dedicated to the eradication of homophobia in sport.
A study published by the University of Alberta in 2019 found that two main elements hold back gay professional hockey players from declaring it publicly: fear that it will affect their sports career and fear that the focus is more on their sexual orientation. than in his performance on ice. Luke Prokop has made history.
On June 21, Las Vegas Raiders defensive forward Carl Nassib became the first active player in the American Football League (NFL) to take this step. As of today, six former members of this competition have made the announcement. In the NBA, Jason Collins came out of the closet in 2013, in an interview with
. He retired a year later after 13 seasons. John Amaechi had related it in 2007, in his autobiography entitled
Man in the Middle
In MLB, the North American Baseball League, Glenn Burke was the first player to say that he is gay, to his teammates and leaders, but he had to keep the secret from the public until after his retirement.
Billy Bean, a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, made the announcement in 1999, four years after leaving the fields.
Meanwhile, no active MLB player has yet declared himself homosexual.
In ice hockey, the NHL already has the example of Luke Prokop, but no former player has taken this initiative.
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