Brent Sopel, a member of the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks who isn’t even on the team any more after being traded to the Thrashers last week, helped the Hawks make an outstanding gesture to the family of Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke this afternoon when he and his family rode in the Chicago Pride Parade with the Cup to honor the memory of Burke’s son Brendan, who died in a car accident last February:â†µ
â†µ“Anybody who has had to bury a child has suffered a heartbreak and this was the first thing that came to mind,” Sopel said. “Everything that happened last year with Brendan coming out last year and dying three months later, it was a tragedy.”â†µâ†µ
The Burke family was more than supportive of Brendan in coming out and they were moved by Sopel’s gesture in a huge way.â†µ
“Our entire family is touched by the kindness of Brent and Kelly Sopel, and that of the Blackhawks,” Burke said Thursday in an e-mail from Los Angeles, where he was attending the league’s draft meetings.â†µ“This is not a small step — it’s a bold and important one. We are grateful that a statement of this magnitude is being made by the Sopels, the Blackhawks and the National Hockey League.”â†µ
There is far too much homophobia and gay-bashing in the world today, particularly surrounding the sports world. This touching gesture by Brent Sopel is a tribute that should not go unrecognized. The Cubs also particpated in the parade with their own float, featuring Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks:â†µ
But by putting forth Banks, an iconic Hall of Famer and one of the classiest men to ever grace the diamond, the Cubs have made a bold and powerful statement that, even in the oft-closed-minded world of professional team sports (It wasn’t all that long ago that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen referred to a reporter as a “fag.” The Sox, by the way, won’t be participating in the parade.), homophobia no longer has a place.â†µ
All human beings deserve dignity, no matter what their color, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Kudos to the Blackhawks and the Cubs.