Prokop, a 19-year-old defenseman who currently plays for the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League, said that while the last year and a half of the pandemic was “crazy,” it gave him the chance to ” find [his] true self. “
“From a young age, I dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to fully develop myself on the ice and improve my chances of achieving my dreams,” we read in part in his statement.
“I hope that by sharing who I am I can help others see that gay people are welcome in the hockey community as we work to make sure hockey is really for everyone.” , he wrote.
The leaders of the national and western hockey leagues responded in favor of Prokop.
Nashville Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said the organization was “proud of Luke for the courage he showed in coming out” and that the team “would support him unequivocally in the days, the weeks and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect. ”
“A long-standing goal of our organization is equality for all, including the LGBTQ community, and it is important that Luke feels comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he advances in his career. “Henry said in a statement shared on the team’s Instagram account.
The Predators signed Prokop on a three-year entry contract after selecting him in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft. Prokop has not played in an NHL game to date.
CNN has reached out to representatives for Prokop for comment and is awaiting a response.
There are few openly gay active players in the country’s major sports leagues
Experts previously told CNN that part of the reason men in professional sports may be reluctant to go out is due to the narrow ideal of masculinity that permeates sports culture. Homophobic language is often used among coaches and players of youth sports teams. This can evolve into enduring homophobic attitudes or cause gay gamers to hide their sexuality from teammates, said Erik Denison, behavioral specialist and principal investigator of the Sport Inclusion Project at Monash University in Australia, in an interview with CNN. in June.
But confined athletes and LGBTQ youth could see a positive example in people like Prokop and Nassib, whose teams have supported them after their release and continue to thrive in their sport.