The National Hockey League may still be unsure of its participation in the 2014 Olympics but it’s definitely ready to make a huge step in supporting equality among pro athletes by teaming up with the You Can Play project, an advocacy group that fights homophobia and promotes equality through the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual athletes in major men’s sports.
Going beyond tolerance and promoting gender equality, acceptance
The agreement, formalized just recently, aims to foster a better environment for gay men in the league. While, for the most part, NHL athletes have no problems with having gay players, as opposed to certain pro football players, there’s a need to provide create a “standard for professional sports when it comes to LGBT outreach.”
A 2011 incident involving a Rangers forward who uttered a homophobic slur is one of the things the agreement aims to avoid—and totally eliminate. It’s common to dismiss such incidences as trivial and not really aimed at hurting a specific individual and because “guys say stuff at the heat of the battle.” Terms like these have become so common in locker rooms many have made a habit out of it. And while NHL is considered gay-friendly, due to its tolerance for gay players, these incidences don’t lessen the negative effect they have on gay players. And that’s what the You Can Play project’s campaign hopes to solve.
Not yet ready for the 2014 Olympics
Despite meetings with representatives from the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL officials are still unsure if they can participate in the upcoming Olympics in Russia due to reasons that include issues with insurance and taking a break to allow players to compete.
Not yet ready for retirement
Preparation is critical to ensure pro hockey players’ success both on the ice and life in general. Whether it’s for the Olympics or on a local rink, preparedness is key to victory. But it’s not the only thing these pro athletes need to worry about. A hockey player’s career is relatively short, especially when injuries occur. Most NHL players retire in their 20s and 30s and with the kind of lifestyle many players have, a decade isn’t enough to save for the future.
NHL players, especially rookies, need to get sound financial advice because it’s easy to squander away new-found wealth. It’s not uncommon to hear of retired pro athletes to go bankrupt just a few years after leaving the professional arena. As a matter of fact, Sports Illustrated reported how more than half of retired pro basketball and football athletes are now in financial distress 2 to 5 years after retirement. Bobby Orr and Darren McCarthy are two notable NHL players who had major money problems.
Just like the fight to eliminate homophobia, hockey players must also fight to avoid bankruptcy in the future. Getting the right financial advice, from experts, is crucial so they can avoid impractical spending and forget to put money for retirement (50 years’ worth of funds is advised). Having the right financial plan is among the many steps to ensure that pro hockey players enjoy a secure life even after playing for the league.
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