Ask anybody involved with Gay Flag Football about the most recent Gay Bowl held just a few weeks ago in Boston and they will tell you it was different. It was different in the most successful way it can be, by setting the standard for the future of the Gay Bowl, Gay Flag Football and LGBTQ+ Sport. What does that mean?

The 2017 Gay Bowl received massive amounts of publicity for the event, thanks in large part to an amazing team of organizers who worked diligently with the National Gay Flag Football League to extend the reach of Gay Flag Football and connect with more people around the world than ever before. This was accomplished with the first ever live broadcast of the Women’s and Men’s A Division Championship games over the internet and social media. The broadcast itself was nothing more than a camera set up just above the field for viewers to watch the game. Friends and family members of athletes could tune in from to watch their favorite stars play, but a lot more work took place behind the scenes to make it happen. Surprisingly, especially to Frank Rossi who was the brains and leader behind getting the broadcast set up, the feed was much more popular than expected. By the end of the event, each game had upwards of 8000+ viewers and countless shares across social media. This was the largest audience ever in the history of Gay Bowl.

Live broadcasting of sporting events over the internet has been around for years. For example, back in 2013 the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championship in Seattle held their first live internet broadcast of the event, so why did it take so long for Gay Bowl to get on board? As Frank explained, the logistics required for setting up a live broadcast at a Gay Bowl are a bit more challenging. The event is usually held on fields that don’t have easy connections to power or internet that would be required. In addition, you have the uncertainty of weather and even something as simple as camera placement can be a challenge. Frank worked with the team of Gay Bowl this year to overcome those challenges for a very successful broadcast. Setting the stage for this to become a regular feature of future Gay Bowls and other field based sporting events.

While the 2017 Gay Bowl broadcast was just a single camera set up for the championship games, the NGFFL plans to expand it to broadcast on one of the many fields as play to showcase the tournament during the preliminary competitions as well. As Shigeo, the NGFFL Liason to Gay Bowl, explains, “To be able to connect with a team’s home city/ community and possibly help organize viewing parties for the team at their local bar or restaurant so the local community can watch their team play.”

The goal for this is to build community support for each team and encourage their friends and family to be able to be a part of the Gay Bowl community. Even if they can’t necessarily be at the Gay Bowl. In addition, Shigeo hopes to be able to incorporate interviews with players, other spectators, organizers, coaches, referees and other people involved with the tournament. All this is to help encourage more people to get involved in the sport and league. To motivate and inspire people from communities without a gay flag football league to look into starting one and of course, increasing participation at the Gay Bowl.

This also has the potential to increase sponsorship participation, the 2017 Gay Bowl is the first LGBTQ+ sporting event to have sponsorship from 5 different professional sports leagues and other organizations which helped make the event possible on a whole new level. With a larger audience and engaging program. This will help make attracting sponsors to support the Gay Bowl and other LGBTQ+ sporting events much more enticing and help keep LGBTQ+ sports sustainable into the future. This is an exciting frontier that Gay Bowl and NGFFL is leading the way and working to accomplish their mission…

“Seeks to promote the positive social and athletic enjoyment of American Flag Football. Through our league, our events and most importantly our members, we also seek to foster and augment the self-respect of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and to promote respect and understanding from the larger community.

Looking forward to seeing what comes next!

Shigeo and Frank in the broadcast booth.

Shigeo and Frank in the broadcast booth.


By Dirk Smith

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