The Role of Gay Sports In Filling Hotel Rooms
By Jeff Guaracino Vice President, Communications, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp | April 01, 2010
GLBT athletes travel for regional, national, continental and international sports competitions and the gay sporting competitions generate millions of dollars for local economies. Gay sports remains an emerging growth market as evidenced by the increasing number of sporting competitions and the steady growth in attendance at those events by athletes and spectators alike.
Gay sporting competitions include badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, bowling, cycling, cross-country, dance sport, darts, diving, dragon boat regatta, figure skating, flag football, gold, handball, ice hockey, karate, marathon, marital arts, physique, pool billiards, power lifting, racquetball, road races, roller racing, rowing, rugby, sailing, soccer, football, softball, squash, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, tennis, track and field, triathlon, volleyball, water polo and wrestling.
There are regional gay sporting competitions that are held annually; multi-country competitions in Europe and North America held semi-annually; and two world-wide sporting competitions, modeled after the Olympics, held every four years with participants from more than 100 countries called the Gay Games and the World Outgames.
The first question I always have heard is why do gay people need their own sporting competition? In Mark Twesbury's 2006 book called "Inside Out" he tells you that the world of sport is a world of uber masculinity. Professional sport does not nurture gay athletes. Gay sporting competitions are a way to compete in a safe, open in an atmosphere free of discrimination or fear. The key difference between the straight sporting events and gay sports is that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered comes with political, social and religious consequences at home and in the world of sports. Gay athletes many not 'out' at home, at work, in sport or to their families. How many 'out' gay professional or amateur gay athletes can you name? Gay sports present athletes the opportunity to express themselves openly, to experience the camaraderie of GLBT people from around the world and earn validation through striving for a personal best in an inclusive environment.
There is lots of business out there that can fill hotel rooms. Consider the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance, an international organization, comprised of 40 gay and lesbian tennis clubs with 5,500 players. The alliance manages and sanctions the gay tennis circuit with 39 annual GLTA-sanctioned tournaments in the U.S, Canada and Europe.
The International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB) has U.S. teams in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego and European teams in Denmark, Sweden, France, London and Whales. The IGRAB hosts an international rugby competition, the Bingham Cup, named in honor of Mark Kendall Bingham, a victim of September 11th. The first Bingham Cup was held in 2002 in San Francisco. That year, eight teams traveled to California to compete over two days. In 2004, the Bingham Cup was held in London but now with twenty teams from four countries. New York City hosted the 2006 Bingham Cup. (26)