When we published our first issue of Compete in 2007 we went to press with just one national brand supporting our mission of uniting the world through sports – Vitamin Water. Today, big brands like Nissan, Adidas and Toyota Financial have stepped up and are now openly supporting sports diversity, equality and inclusion.
Over the years big names like Chase, Lexus, US Bank, Orbitz, Nike, Microsoft, Northern Trust and others have supported our publication and events. And that trend of supporting LGBTQ sports continues to rise.
Nissan, one of Compete’s partners is a major sponsor of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA). Prudential is also a proud supporter of NAGAAA.
In the past, national sponsorships were often limited to major beer and alcohol brands supporting teams at the local level. This year, Eric Ryan, founder, creator and producer of the Sin City Shootout announced that Toyota Financial Services would be the festival’s first title sponsor. It took Ryan 10 years of hard work building the tournament before the Shootout landed on the financial giant’s radar. Toyota Financial Services was also featured on the 2017 cover of Compete’s special Sin City issue and on the magazine’s back cover.
Just last month the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) announced a partnership with the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots. The Patriots gifted NGFFL’s Gay Bowl with $25,000. While we don’t know exactly how long it took for the NGFFL to land on the Patriots’ radar screen, it’s safe to assume the sponsorship didn’t just happen overnight.
As new major brands continue to align themselves with LGBTQ sports, the future looks bright. At the same time, it is important to look at the local and regional brands that have been loyal to the community for a long time. After all, many local bars, for example, still play a major role in supporting and financing local, regional and national tournaments.
So what I suggest to my friends in LGBTQ sports is this: while you proudly hang all of your national sponsors’ banners up at your event, please be sure to keep your local partners’ banners there, too. We still want to honor those sponsors who proudly supported LGBTQ sports long before it was the cool thing to do.
Eric Carlyle, SDL