When the Boston delegates went to the Federation of Gay Games meeting to bring the 2014 games to their city, they thought they had it all locked up. But, like the undefeated 2007 Patriots heading into the Super Bowl, they got a rude awakening when the final decision came down: Cleveland was selected as the host. Now many in Boston are lashing out at Cleveland and the Federation of Gay Games in an article in Boston Spirit Magazine.
Boston organizers claim the bidding process wasn't fair or transparent, and that they had the best bid for the 2014 games. They claim the FGG played favorites with Cleveland. One of the organizers, Steve Harrington, is so upset he says he won't attend the 2014 Gay Games because the FGG didn't choose Boston.
"This is really systematic of the Federation itself," [Boston Pride president Linda] DeMarco retorts. "They put themselves out to be an organized organization that is moving forward and growing and they wanted to have sponsorships that would stay with them and take it to the next level. We were able to do that. In the end in Cologne, all they did was step back and use us as a catalyst to go with something far less because we were a threat to them. We were too good."
An interesting claim I find a bit incredible. The FGG didn't choose Boston because they were too good? The FGG is a political place, so politically motivated decisions aren't out of the question. But to not go with a city because they're scared the organization is too good? I just can't buy that for a second.
But DeMarco is right: The process needs some work. Team DC allegedly spent $1 million to lure the Gay Games to their city (a claim Team DC refutes). That. Is. In. Sane. The Boston organizers claim they were punished for following the bidding-process rules and Cleveland was rewarded for breaking them. And all of the bidding cities for 2014 seem to claim the RFP and other bid documents contradict one another and are often very unclear. If true, these are big problems the FGG needs to address.
I love Boston. I grew up near there. And I know tons of great people in the Boston gay sports community (which is very strong), including some quoted in the story. But the complaints from Boston, as written in the article, all sound like (as the article implies) sour grapes to me. The FGG is a volunteer organization that hasn't been incredibly well-run for as long as I've been covering it. And we have seen politics at times overrun the organization. The Boston people, many of whom have worked with the Gay Games for years, knew what they were getting into.
I'm not sure that having the attitude that you'd already won the bid (which is what the article says) is the best way to approach a final meeting, but that's allegedly how Boston approached it. DeMarco said, "I don’t think any of us involved in the process thought that Cleveland was part of the scenario." That was a huge strategic error on their part. Rule No. 1 in sports: Don't underestimate your opponent. Hopefully the Boston folks will come around and support Cleveland wholeheartedly, and Harrington will bring his ball back and play.
Frankly, I'm glad Cleveland won. Boston organizers complain that the idea of hosting the Gay Games in a less-gay-friendly place (to make a political statement) was given too much weight by the FGG. I don't know how much weight it was given, but that's why I'm glad they picked Cleveland. Part of the FGG's mission is to change minds and be a visible agent of change. That's a huge part of why Tom Waddell started the Gay Games. It's a huge part of why Outsports exists. And I'm glad the FGG is taking their message to Ohio.
Did the FGG make a mistake in picking Cleveland? I don't know; I guess we'll find out in four years. But I know this: I'll be attending the Gay Games in Cleveland for sure, and I hope they have a record number of participants.