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

As part of an ongoing and growing relationship between the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) and the National Football League (NFL), the Seattle Seahawks have signed on as the presenting sponsor for the Gay Bowl XXIII set to take place in October 2023 in Seattle, Washington.

The Seahawks have sponsored the local Seattle NGFFL league, the Cascade Flag Football Association since 2019 where the Seahawks helped provide funding and resources to the LGBTQ+ flag football league to help it grow and prosper. This effort ultimate had led to the 2023 Gay Bowl bid being awarded to Seattle.

“The Seahawks organization is committed to spreading a love for the game of football and providing equal opportunities for people of all backgrounds to play regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race,” said Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Seattle Seahawks Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “We are proud to support the Gay Bowl XXIII – Seattle in its mission to make sports, especially football, more inclusive for all.” 

Local NFL teams have sponsored previous Gay Bowls and NGFFL local leagues, including the New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, and the Arizona Cardinals. The initial planting of these seeds came back in 2017/2018 with the Arizona Cardinals partnering with the Compete Sports Diversity to find ways for the team to better connect with the local LGBTQ+ community, especially the sports community to learn how they can improve upon their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts.

This ultimately led the Cardinals to build a relationship with the Phoenix Gay Flag Football League and then-president, Jesus Godinez who had already been building bridges between the PGFFL and some other local professional sports teams. Leading to the inevitably of a working relationship with the Cardinals.

Seeing the success of the initial partnership and mutually beneficial support from both sides, this inspired more teams to get involved and, with the help of Jesus, NGFFL, and Compete, a “snowball effect” occurred that has ultimately led to everything from NFL teams sponsoring local leagues, participating in LGBTQ+ pride parades, sponsoring Gay Bowl, inviting local LGBTQ+ leaders (including members of the Compete Sports Diversity Council)  to offer DEI training for team staff and athletes, inviting board members of the NGFFL to make a draft selection, and so much more.

We are excited to see this relationship continue to grow and prosper. Compete will be hosting another Sports Diversity Summit in Seattle with the Seahawks in 2023, we will be sharing more details about it soon. We hope to see you there!

Photo by Phil Robertson via Wikimedia Commons