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True Athletic Courage

When I first heard about John Bucigross’s story of Brendan Burke going public with his homosexuality I was quite stunned that someone involved in college sports would dare go public with that knowledge.  When I think about it, it really is kinda depressing that we are stunned and that this needs to be big news.

Here we have a courageous athlete, son of a famous hockey executive, who doesn’t feel as though he can continue his college hockey career because he doesn’t want anyone to find out he is homosexual.  He makes excuses about not getting enough playing time and being discouraged.

The sports world in general is not exactly the most receptive atmosphere for homosexuality.  There is a lot of testosterone and macho-ness, certainly ones sexuality defines a great portion of ones character in this setting.

Brendan Burke was a team manager for his university hockey team.  He is now a gay team manager for his university hockey team.  It is sad to say that Brendan will now be known for not only being Brian Burke’s kid, but also be known as someone who came out of the closet.

It really is no surprise that gay pro and college athletes– and make no mistake about it; there are gay athletes– choose to keep this a secret.  Its not exactly something that people overlook easily.  It just seems so out of place in today’s culture for an athlete to be gay.

I think, because of brave people like Brendan, this will soon change.  I’m not saying every gay athlete will suddenly run out on to the field with a rainbow flag strapped to their back, but I think one day it will be accepted that there is a possibility that your favourite athlete, or a player on your favourite team might be gay….and it won’t matter.

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BC Lions start 2009 season 0-2

I know the Lions started last season 0-2.  I know they ended up with quite a respectable record at the end of the year.  I know they won the Western Semi-Final and with a few breaks against Calgary might have gone  to the Grey Cup.  But this year seems different.   This year 0-2 looks like it could easily turn into 0-4…or worse.

Now, I am a HUGE Wally Buono fan, and I agree with 95% of his decisions.  He has clearly made this team a perennial threat to win it all since he has been here.  His penchant for finding talent, especially at quarterback is unrivalled.  I can’t argue with his coaching record either as he is about to pass his friend, colleague, and rival Don Matthews to become the winningest coach in CFL history provided he can win 5 games this season.  However, it looks like that is no longer a slam dunk.

With the departure of stars Cam Wake and Stefan Logan to the NFL, and Rob Murphy to the Toronto Argonauts, it can be argued that the BC Lions lost 3 of their 4 best players, Geroy Simon being the other.  That would cripple any team without question.  But to follow that up with the sending away of multiple-time CFL Outstanding Canadian Jason Clermont to the arch-rival Saskatchewan Roughriders, Otis Floyd who last week ended the Lions comeback attempt with a key interception for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, veteran Canadian lineman Kelly Bates, as well as stalwart defensive lineman Tyrone Williams many questions have been rised as to the direction Wally’s squad will be taking this year.

The above-mentioned names comprise half an all-star team.  They were replaced by….um, well…let’s see here…oh yeah, depth offensive lineman Walter Stith (now released), rookie lineman Dean Valli, previous year send-off and recent Calgary Stampeder cast-away Bobby Singh and a bunch of no-names and previous camp cuts.  The one pleasant surprise, in my opinion, has been import running back Martel Mallet, or as I like to call him “The Hammer”.   From what I have seen he has done a superb job filling in for the departed Stefan Logan.   I just wish they would give him the ball more often.

While it seems as though this article is full of criticism and laced with despair, I am very confident in Wally Buono’s abilities and the abilities of his staff.  I think the team will turn things around and make the playoffs and hopefully by then be firing on all cylinders and make a run at the Grey Cup again.  It is just not the near certainty it has been in recent years.