Philly’s new LGBT flag football team scores a touchdown
Over the last decade, competitive sports leagues for LGBT individuals have worked overtime to give their members social and communal outlets outside of the traditional bar scene. They’ve also helped change out-dated stereotypes about gay pastimes. And these teams have proven wildly popular (and entertaining) diversions for men and women across the country. The Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League is among this ever-expanding slate of options for LGBT sports aficionados.
Now at tail-end of their second fall season, the GPFFL has grown from the idea of a few to the organization of many.
"I moved here from Boston in July 2009, and had played in the Boston league which has over 200 guys and 14 teams each fall," commissioner Scott Dinkins said. "It was a great way to be involved in a non contact sport that was also very social oriented. Flag football is "the thing to do" in Boston."
Dinkins discovered there was no Philadelphia league, so he contacted the National Gay Flag Football League.
"Ironically, they were trying to start an expansion league in a couple of cities across the country," he said. "They put me in touch with Christian George, Brian Scott, and Matt Joseph. We met on September 8th last year and formed the GPFFL."
The GPFFL held its first recruiting event at Outfest 2008. Players handed out flyers and worked the crowd, and Dinkins was also able to meet and talk with Mayor Michael Nutter.
Dinkins and the league needed a field on which to play, and Nutter’s office arranged for the GPFFL to use the Tarken Recreation Center in Northeast Philadelphia.
"We had 12 guys that first Saturday last fall and the number of guys that came out stayed at about 14 each Saturday," Dinkins said. "It was fun, but the field was just too far out of Center City to really grow the league."
The league was able to use Columbus Square in South Philly this fall.
"It has made all the difference," Dinkins added. "We now have about 40 people showing up each Saturday at our new location. We two games going at once."
The association’s competitive team, the Revolution, now has a 16-member roster. The Revolution recently traveled to Washington to take part in the Gay Superbowl IX. The team, which was seeded 18 out of 20 teams, played Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta first. The Revolution lost those games, but Dinkins stressed his members "were proud of how we played."
"Over 20 teams from across the country participated, and it was very competitive," Dinkins said.
While the Revolution wasn’t able to bring back any title to Philly, Dinkins said he feels the entire experience was powerful and positive.
"Some highlights of the tournament for us were a hard fought game [versus] San Antonio," he said. "We lost 21-20 on the last play of the game. It was a heart breaker of a game - but that’s football. The other highlight was regrouping the next morning and upsetting #16 ranked team with a score of 33-0."