By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)

We’re looking forward to the Compete Sports Diversity Summit and we caught up with Compete Sports Diversity CEO and Founder, Eric Carlyle, to learn more about what’s planned for the event and how we can all get more involved.


Dirk Smith: What exactly is the Compete Sports Diversity Summit? Can you tell me more about the mission of the organization and the purpose of the event?

Eric Carlyle: The Summit brings together sports leaders across all spectrums—from weekend athletes to professional sports executives.  The Summit is designed is to build upon Compete’s mission and vison.  Our mission is “to connect, educate, empower, and inspire mission driven LGBTQIA+ and allied sports and community leaders, sports organizations, non-profit groups, tourism partners, corporate partners, and athletes to further sports diversity together” and our vision is “to unite the world through sports.”


Dirk Smith: When and where will the event be held?

It’s a live event, held May 21-23. Saturday’s event will be hosted by the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium and we will be at the Showcase Room in Tempe on Sunday.


Dirk Smith: Who all is going to be there? Both in terms of organizations and names, anybody we might recognize?

We truly want to unite the world through sports so you will a very diverse group of sports leaders.  While we are still confirming the attendees list, but you will find people from the world’s largest LGBTQ+ softball organization, North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, the National Gay Flag Football League, Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury and many others.


Dirk Smith: I’ve noticed there are some non-sport organizations that are members of the Sports Diversity Council, what role do they play in furthering the Compete Sports Diversity mission?

We believe that when it comes to diversity every voice should be heard. Sports is a great uniter.  So, while someone may not be an athlete—or even a fan, they may see the value and impact sports can make in creating a more diverse and inclusive world.


Dirk Smith: Tell us more about yourself, what inspired you to launch Compete Sports Diversity and to organize the Compete Sports Diversity Summit?

I am a weekend athlete myself. I participated in the 2006 Bingham Cup, the LGBTQ+ equivalent of the World Rugby Cup and noticed a lack of media presence. This led to creating Compete Magazine—a forerunner to Compete Sports Diversity.  The Summit is a way for us all to connect and build partnerships the old-fashioned way, in person.


Dirk Smith: Through your work, you’ve gotten to meet and work with hundreds of athletes and sports professionals who embody #SportsDiversity. Is there anybody particular who you’ve found inspiration from?

Yes, so many people. Two that stand out are Shigeo Iwamiya, the current commissioner of the National Gay Flag Football League and Billie Jean King. Iwamiya leads with the wisdom and compassion I wish I had and King inspired Compete’s name.  I had the chance to interview her early on and she said that “her only competitor was herself”.


Dirk Smith: What does “Sports Diversity” mean to you?

To me sports diversity is seeing people represented as they choose to be represented having the ability to do what they choose to do.


Dirk Smith: What do the next 5-10 years look like for yourself and the Compete Sports Diversity Council/ Summit?

We will be adding more woman focused events.  Diversity includes everyone—including those that are underrepresented.


Dirk Smith: Tell us more about how people can get involved with the Compete Sports Diversity Council and attend the summit?

Call or email me anytime. Eric Carlyle. 480-386-7174.


Dirk Smith: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, the schedule for this year’s Summit.

  • Friday, 5 p.m.
    Event Registration. This is a great opportunity to meet other even attendees and relax before an exciting weekend.


  • Saturday, 7:30 a.m.
    We will be serving up a “grab and grow breakfast” to attendees before we head out to State Farm Stadium for a day of unity, fun and making the world more diverse.


  • Saturday 8:30 a.m.
    Bus leaves for State Farm Stadium.


  • Saturday 9:30 a.m.
    A full day of working together with old and new friends. The Summit will serve as a framework for the change we want to make together. We will have panels, discussion groups, round tables and most importantly, lots of laughter.  Not to mention a great lunch!


  • Saturday 3:45 p.m.
    The bus leaves for the host hotel.


  • Saturday 6:00 p.m.
    Food! Intimate dinners scattered throughout Tempe.


  • Saturday 8:30 p.m.
    Social excursion. We will be meeting up somewhere casual and fun in Tempe for some much-needed social time.


  • Sunday 9 a.m.
    Soccer announcement. Connor Shane, director of national events for USA Racquetball will be hosting a big announcement from International Gay & Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA).  It’s a big announcement and IGLFA president will be there, too.


  • Sunday 10 a.m.
    Awards brunch. Time to celebrate a long weekend. We will be honoring a number of deserving athletes and organizations as make plans for our upcoming events.

Dirk Smith: Thank you Eric! We are looking forward to it!