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Team San Francisco attacks the Outgames

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Since the day the First World Outgames were announced, there has been a segment of the gay community that sought first and foremost to destroy the Outgames. The latest installment is a press release from Team San Francisco publicly refusing to support the Outgames or athletes attending the event in 2013. From Team San Francisco's press release:

Reacting to the announcement that the Gay & Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA) plans to hold a third World Outgames in 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium, Team SF held internal discussions as to whether it could in good conscience support WOG3. Following those discussions, the Team SF board approved without dissent the following motion:

Team San Francisco reaffirms its historical commitment to the long established and internationally recognized Gay Games as the preeminent quadrennial global LGBT multi-sport and cultural event. We believe unity behind the Gay Games is an effective and visible means of empowerment, and that continuation of the World Outgames would constitute a dilution of finite resources and a detriment to our community. Therefore, Team SF cannot and will not support any future World Outgames, and we welcome our fellow athletes and artists from across the globe to join us at the Gay Games.

While the Outgames and Gay Games have already announced the intention to hold joint games in 2018, that isn't enough for some. I just don't understand the need some have to try to destroy an event that thousands of people enjoy.

One very odd part of the press release really stood out to me, a quote from Team SF president Tyler Cole:

The Gay Games have changed thousands of lives across the globe every year they are held and are the best means we have available to come together in arts and athletics. The World Outgames gravely diminish that potential.

Two big problems with that statement. First, the Outgames have changed lives as well and continue to do so; The Gay Games don't have the patent on "changing lives." Second is this assertion that the Outgames dilute the Gay Games and "gravely diminish" their potential. Essentially, Cole is saying the Gay Games are so weak they can't be maintained unless they're the only game in town. I couldn't disagree more. The Gay Games have a wonderful legacy that will be maintained for years to come whether there's an Outgames or not. It's a shame that someone running Team San Francisco has such little faith in the Gay Games.

I'd love to see the events merge into one quadrennial event again. But I'm not going to stomp my feet and try to demand that one of them ceases to exist to appease my whim.

Two (of several) factors cited by Team SF for their resolution: 1) "a notable registration decline since the advent of the WOGs in 2006," and 2) "resources being stretched too thin to support multiple, competing events resulting in 'tournament fatigue.'"

Um, from what I've seen there will be a notable registration decline for the Gay Games from 2006 as well. And "tournament fatigue" is more a result of an explosion of single-sport gay sporting events in recent years. Should the softball tournament in Seattle and the volleyball tournament in Las Vegas and the football tournament in Chicago cease to exist to make way for the Gay Games? Hardly.

I attended the Outgames in Montreal and loved it. I attended the Gay Games in Sydney and Chicago and loved them, and I will attend the Gay Games in Cologne this summer. And I'll love it. These events are all fun and empowering, and I will never understand the need some have to shit on everybody else's good time. I'm glad the Federation of Gay Games and GLISA have learned that attacking each other is the biggest problem; Too bad not everyone has learned that lesson.

Here's the full press release:

Backing Gay Games, Team SF vows no support for Outgames in 2013

SAN FRANCISCO May 31, 2010 -- Reacting to the announcement that the Gay & Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA) plans to hold a third World Outgames in 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium, Team SF held internal discussions as to whether it could in good conscience support WOG3. Following those discussions, the Team SF board approved without dissent the following motion:

Team San Francisco reaffirms its historical commitment to the long established and internationally recognized Gay Games as the preeminent quadrennial global LGBT multi-sport and cultural event. We believe unity behind the Gay Games is an effective and visible means of empowerment, and that continuation of the World Outgames would constitute a dilution of finite resources and a detriment to our community. Therefore, Team SF cannot and will not support any future World Outgames, and we welcome our fellow athletes and artists from across the globe to join us at the Gay Games.

The action builds on Team SF's 2009 resolution recommending a restoration of the EuroGames to all non-Gay Games years and that "the long established and internationally recognized Gay Games be the only quadrennial global LGBT multi-sport and cultural event beginning in 2010." (See www.lgbtsportsfuture.wordpress.com.)

"We have heard only good reports from athletes who enjoyed competing in the EuroGames in Antwerp, but we believe staging another World Outgames is simply not in the best interests of LGBT athletes," said Team SF President Tyler Cole. "The Gay Games have changed thousands of lives across the globe every year they are held and are the best means we have available to come together in arts and athletics. The World Outgames gravely diminish that potential."

Factors cited by Team SF board members in their discussion included a notable registration decline since the advent of the WOGs in 2006, resources being stretched too thin to support multiple, competing events resulting in "tournament fatigue," a desire to keep a mission focus on sports and culture rather than subsidizing conferences and parties, and Team SF's historic ties to the Gay Games. Organizers of last year's World Outgames in Copenhagen said they were unaware of the resistance to the WOGs or the difficulties they created for LGBT sports organizations. Team SF wants to make Antwerp aware of the situation well in advance.

The Gay Games were born in San Francisco, where the San Francisco Arts & Athletics hosted the first two LGBT quadrennial global sports and cultural festivals in 1982 and 1986. Since then the Games have been held in Vancouver (1990), New York City (1994), Amsterdam (1998), Sydney (2002) and Chicago (2006). This year's Gay Games VIII will be held July 31-Aug. 7 in Cologne, Germany; and the 2014 Gay Games will be held in Cleveland, Ohio.

When the decision was made by San Francisco Arts & Athletics to take the Games out of San Francisco under the newly created Federation of Gay Games, Team SF was formed with a mission to support Bay Area athletes going to the Games, and that historical connection shows in past registration numbers.

Team SF board member Gene Dermody, who has served the FGG as a president, sports officer and technical officer, said, "In every Gay Games since Vancouver 1990, the absolute Gay Games registration has reflected huge San Francisco Bay Area support. Team San Francisco has been one of the first and strongest supporters of the FGG, often supplying crucial leadership, including about a dozen Team SF leaders who moved onto FGG leadership roles. I analyzed all of the registration databases from Vancouver on, and categorically, Bay Area registration has been anywhere from 10 percent to 15 percent of the total registration. This is a sizeable representation, and illustrates the power of Team San Francisco in promoting events."