The You Can Play Project is an initiative dedicated to ensuring safety and inclusion for everyone who plays sports, and it has just partnered with esports team Los Angeles Valiant.
You Can Play has support from various traditional sports organisations in the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer, but this is the first time it has partnered with an esports organisation.
The Los Angeles Valiant, owned by Immortals, are currently participating in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League.
LA Valiant are participating in the Overwatch League and have partnered with You Can Play
You Can Play was launched in 2012 by Patrick Burke of the NHL, sports and entertainment marketing executive Brian Kitts, and Glenn Witman of GForce Sports.
Patrick Burke’s brother Brendan Burke came out as gay in 2009, but died a few months later in a car accident. The organisation was founded in his honour.
‘For too long, the esports industry has been unfairly characterized as a toxic, unwelcoming environment,’ said LA Valiant CEO Noah Whinston.
‘This assumption runs counter to the core values of the Los Angeles Valiant organization and our partnership with the You Can Play Project further cements our dedication to making the LA Valiant an inclusive community. The message is simple: no matter who you are, who you love, or what gender you identify as – if you can play, you can play.’
You Can Play will be providing diversity and inclusion to LA Valiant players, coaches, and staff.
It’s something that’s apparently much needed in the Overwatch League, after multiple fines and bans for inappropriate comments by players. There is one openly gay player in the league at the moment, Austin ‘Muma’ Wilmot of the Houston Outlaws.
Overwatch’s cover star, Tracer, is the first character in the game to be confirmed as LGBT.
Overwatch has a diverse cast of characters, including its cover star Tracer, the first LGBT hero
There will also be a PSA filmed to promote awareness of the initiative among the esports community. You Can Play will be at Valiant events for fans to interact with, and there will be ‘Pride Night’ events when the LA Valiant move to their home arena in 2020.
‘You Can Play is honored to have the LA Valiant as our first esports partner,’ added Ryan Pettengill, Executive Director of You Can Play. ‘They are an organization committed to promoting diversity in and around esports; we are happy to be a part of that effort and so appreciative of their support.’
In addition to the partnership, Valiant are selling pride-themed iron-on patches throughout June’s Pride Month. A portion of the proceeds will go towards You Can Play.
If you’re in the LA area, you can also get the patches for free at the Blizzard Arena tonight, and at Gym Sportsbar in West Hollywood tomorrow during the Be Valiant: LA Valiant Pride Party.
The Los Angeles Valiant players will be wearing the patch for their match against the New York Excelsior this evening.
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