Jock Talk: Pride Track Meet returns
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The 10th annual San Francisco Pride Track and Field Meet, hosted by the San Francisco Track and Field Club, will return Saturday, June 17, to Cox Stadium at San Francisco State University.
Event organizer Andrew Bundy said he recently injured his knee, which will keep him out of the competition, but he's looking forward to greeting the more than 110 athletes expected for the meet.
"In the past year we've made big strides in working with USA Track and Field," Bundy said. "We'll have talks with officials and participants about the work we've been doing with track's LGBT subcommittee."
Bundy said Alan Kolling, head of the subcommittee, will make a presentation on the group's work at the track and field nationals in Sacramento during Pride weekend. According to Bundy, the subcommittee is looking at four key areas: outreach to youth and LGBT groups; educational efforts to help track and field constituents be aware of LGBT issues to help promote more tolerance and diversity in the sport; efforts to engage LGBT participants in USA Track and Field events; and how to leverage USATF resources and leadership to work with other global track powerhouses to help them improve their tolerance and diversity.
"In some cases, their LGBT records are very poor," Bundy said, especially on intersex and transgender issues. "We'd like to see USA lead the charge to change that."
Although SFTFC did not send athletes to the abruptly canceled World Outgames in Miami last month, Bundy shared the sorrow and anger other athletes felt, but was glad that the track athletes who were there were able to salvage their own impromptu competition.
"I don't think a lot of the athletes who participate in competition are interested in attending conferences," he said of the Outgames' financial implosion. "On the other hand, Gay Games X in Paris next year should be relatively well attended."
He said meet organizers are also considering ways to take the Pride event experience on the road.
"I went to the Sin City Shootout last year to gauge its appeal," Bundy said. "It's relatively inexpensive and it usually has fairly good weather for that time of year. The question is, how much of that can you replicate elsewhere?"
SFTFC was created in 1982 after San Francisco hosted Gay Games I, founded by Olympic decathlete Tom Waddell. The club holds regular weekly practices and participates in numerous local meets as well as the quadrennial Gay Games. According to its mission statement, SFTFC "seeks to dignify, to promote gay and lesbian athletes and to be inclusive of all ages, all genders, all races and all abilities. We stress the joy of sport while attempting to nurture athletic ability, always encouraging each other to strive for personal best achievements."
For information about SFTFC, visit the group's website at http://www.sftrackandfield.com.
Registration for the Pride meet is $55 through June 16; day-of-the-race registration will be available for $65. For Pride Meet competition and registration information, visit http://www.pridemeet.org.
World Outgames update
Three former presidents of the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association, which licenses the World Outgames, have joined the chorus of calls for an end of the quadrennial event in the wake of the last-minute cancellation of Outgames Miami last month as the result of bungled finances.
"It is heartbreaking to witness the failed delivery of the fourth World Outgames in Miami," former GLISA presidents Julia Applegate, Wessel van Kampen, and Daniel Vaudrin wrote in a May 31 open letter to the current GLISA board. "We urge that the board of directors of GLISA International halt all current and future activities. We acknowledge and understand the critical mass to achieve GLISA's ambitions have not come to the culmination required to sustain the organization. It is time for GLISA to cease to exist."
GLISA, whose website as of June 6 had not been updated for more than a year, issued no immediate response.
The Federation of Gay Games, which licenses the Gay Games, including the one to be held in Paris next year, issued a "pledge" to its constituents about steps it takes to avoid such fiascos.
"If events such as the Gay Games wish to remain relevant as a movement to use sport and culture to transform global perceptions, then it is critical that they are produced with transparency and a selfless commitment to enriching the community as a whole," the FGG wrote. "That is why, beginning in July, and every three months for the next year, the Federation of Gay Games (in conjunction with our host organization), will release a financial update so the community can see that we have their best interests at heart. The lessons of the past and present have not been wasted on the future of the Gay Games. The FGG has an obligation to our 35-year history and the community at large. It is our responsibility to ensure our event keeps the focus where it belongs: on the individual participant to achieve their highest potential. Today, we recommit to that pledge."
I agree with the conclusion of the former GLISA presidents – I've been calling for an end of the World Outgames as a participatory sports event since the 2009 Copenhagen Outgames – but not their rational. Yes, Miami was a disaster and we are waiting to see what the government investigations reveal as to what happened to the money the Outgames received, but the fatal flaw in the Outgames model is not new to Miami. GLISA offers no substantial marketing support, participant involvement in event organization, or a system of effective oversight so athletes can be forewarned and such a fiasco averted. The presidents praised the "success" of previous world and continental Outgames and talked about all the pride of "everyone" involved, but did not touch on the complaints of marketing problems, poor registration, failure to deliver promised competition brackets and tournaments – or the cancellation of the last two continental Outgames in North America and Asia Pacific.
And a public radio broadcast in the Miami area last week captured a good deal of the lack of preparation made by Miami "organizers," but the local journalists on the show were less circumspect about their failure to ask the questions and report the information that would have alerted everyone to the pending catastrophe. The local LGBT sports columnist could not even think of the location of the previous World Outgames when asked (Antwerp, 2013) and used the term "World Outgames" interchangeably when he meant the Miami organizers and when he meant GLISA (which he never specifically named).
My hope out of all of this is that LGBT athletes will become more aware about the organizations and events they support. There are some great LGBT inclusive events and competing in them elevates our athletic experience to its highest, most empowering level.