Gay Bowl XI kicks off in Houston

Gay flag football players from across North America descend on Houston this weekend to take part in Gay Bowl XI, the sport’s national championship. This is the second time Texas has hosted the tournament; Dallas was the site of the 2006 Gay Bowl.

The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Motion (the team Jim and I play on) are the tournament’s top seed; Last year’s runners-up and winners of three in a row from 2006-2008, the New York Warriors, are the tournament’s second seed. The San Diego Bolts, Phoenix Hellraisers and San Diego Toros round out the top five. All told, 26 teams will participate, the same number as last year.

This is the first Gay Bowl to feature a team from outside the United States, as the Toronto Mounties make the trip for the first time. The Dallas Stallions also make their debut; Dallas (then the Bullcats) have not participated in the tournament since 2009.

Each team plays three games in the round robin on Friday and Saturday morning. Teams are then seeded based on record and point differential with the top 16 teams advancing to the Championship round; The other 10 teams vye for the consolation title.

Some interesting matchups await in the round robin. Last year’s champion No. 1 Los Angeles Motion open the tournament Friday morning against last year’s consolation-bracket winners, the No. 14 Salt Lake City Avalanche. The two teams last met in the 2008 semifinals with the hometown Avalanche winning. The No. 10 Washington Generals play the No. 17 Denver Summit Saturday morning; National Gay Flag Football League commissioner Shane Kinkennon won two titles with Washington before moving to Denver. The best matchup of the round robin may pit the No. 6 Chicago Freeze against the No. 7 Boston Hancocks. The host No. 12 Houston Hurricanes drew a very tough draw with No. 2 New York Warriors and No. 15 San Francisco Bay Crash.

All games are held at Cullen Park. The championship will be decided Sunday with a 3pm kickoff.

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