Mizzou Athletics Joins Nationwide 'You Can Play' Project

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COLUMBIA - MU athletics premiered its "You Can Play" project Monday, showing the video to all male student-athletes.The nationwide project promotes ensuring safety, respect and equality among athletes with different sexual orientations.

Alejandro Cubria, a graduate assistant for the MU LGBTQ Resource Center, spoke to student-athletes from the "Men to Men" program about the dealing with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) and Ally Community issues.

"On terms of the institution and what teams can do is to realize there is a big problem around the country and the amount of harassment that student-athletes receive because of their situation or climate around LGBQT issues. Those numbers and research that has come out help to  promote athletic administrations especially here in Mizzou to see that is it serious issue that they need to be proactive on branding their image," said Cubria.

A research report reveals the discrimination experienced from college student-athletes around the nation lowers not only their athletic performance, but also their academic success.

Athletic trainer Casey Hairston came up with the idea to join the project and posted a video to the Mizzou network last week. Kim Lambert, the MU Associate Athletics Director Kim Lambert said this is another way show support for LGBQT awareness.

"That's definitely going to be a scary time for anybody. In athletics, traditionally, it's been a little more intimidating -- not sure how team mates will react, but I think what this video is showing is we're welcoming that," Lambert said.

Ph.D. student, Anne Shadle, who's studying sports psychology said creating this supportive environment helps the team effort and the athlete to excel in their performance.

"Elite athletes have a great support system.They're very determined and they need to have support just completely around them, pushing them day and supporting day in and day out in pursuit of their dreams," Shadle said.

"One thing that bothers me is when people talk negatively about an athlete without knowing anything about who they are as person -- all of the incredible things beyond their competition," Shadle said.

Lambert said additional informational sessions will be held in the fall.