Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Jock Talk: A big Vegas gamble


The popular Sin City Shootout is the subject of dueling lawsuits in federal court.
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The last thing the LGBT sports world needs right now is finger-pointing uncertainty – but that's precisely what dueling lawsuits over the Sin City Shootout are giving us.

LGBT sports have grown from humble scattered roots more than four decades ago into a unifying global movement involving hundreds of thousands of athletes across the globe – as well as activists and dedicated organizations partnering with professional sports and scholastic institutions to promote and ensure acceptance and support.

The San Francisco Gay Softball League just celebrated its 45th anniversary at the Gay Softball World Series in Portland, Oregon. The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association just celebrated its 25th year of soccer and held its Unity Cup in Miami. Robust bidding is going on among potential hosts for the 40th anniversary Gay Games in 2022 and hopes are building for next year's Gay Games in Paris. Ooh la la!

And yet ...

The Federation of Gay Games website (, which should be going great guns right now helping to promote awareness and registrations for Paris, currently is a dysfunctional technical mess – and has been for months. The World Outgames in Miami were canceled at the last minute because of fiscal mismanagement, are currently under a state criminal investigation, and left hundreds of athletes screwed out of registration and travel costs. That debacle followed the cancellations of two continental Outgames the year before, and the stench of the Miami fiasco was enough to convince Winnipeg to withdraw as the host for a future North American Outgames as well as a nearly universal call for the abandonment of the entire Outgames brand.

And now Sin City Shootout, far and away the largest and most successful annual LGBT sports event in the world, is locked in a legal he said/he said spat as registrations are opening for the 2018 event – just four months away. (See, " LA softball sues over Vegas Shootout," August 31.)

The Greater Los Angeles Softball Association is suing Shootout organizer Eric Ryan for control of the event, claiming the multisport festival has been its property since its inception – a claim Ryan – who has been the lead organizer throughout the event's meteoric growth and has the registration website and owns the rights to the brand name – disputes.

Both parties filed supporting affidavits and evidence earlier this month.

Registrations for the Shootout have always opened on staggered schedules as each of the relevant host organizations for those sports tournaments become ready. For example, as of Monday, golf, dodgeball, Frisbee, wrestling, and ice hockey had their 2018 registration information up.

GLASA is moving forward with plans for a renamed Sin City Classic, rather than Shootout, and has launched a separate website, As of Monday it had at least partial registration information up for seven of its proposed 24 sports.

In late June, GLASA filed for a restraining order against Ryan, asking to have him blocked from going forward until the matter is settled. That order was denied by federal judge John F. Walter of the U.S. Central District Court of California.

"The court concludes that GLASA has not made a sufficient showing for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or the issuance of an order to show cause," the judge wrote. "As an initial matter, GLASA has failed to set forth the elements of, and the evidence in support of, each of its claims for relief, which has made it impossible for the court to determine whether GLASA has met its burden of showing a likelihood of success on the merits."

The judge also noted that there is a dispute over ownership of the event name and the event website.

"Although GLASA claims that its efforts have been 'hindered' in its efforts to plan for the Sin City Shootout, it fails to adequately demonstrate how those efforts have been hindered. Accordingly, GLASA's application is denied," ordered Walter.

Both sides are due in court October 16, at which time they need to state what damages they are seeking. Before that they must submit a joint report on October 2 stating factual disagreements, what people or events would be impacted by the decision, and documenting what efforts they have made to resolve their disputes.

According to documents filed in support of Ryan's claim, he started working on the inaugural 2008 Shootout in late 2007 after GLASA had rejected a proposal for a Las Vegas tournament. According to witness statements, GLASA had held a Tournament of the Stars in 2007 that drew criticisms for being poorly managed and turning from a double-elimination event into single elimination – a true deterrent to drawing registrants from far away.

But in documents supporting GLASA's claim, former GLASA Commissioner Ken Scearce said that although GLASA was initially skeptical of the idea of holding a tournament in Las Vegas, it ran the inaugural Shootout as an experiment and then decided to go forward with it.

"At no time did Ryan tell me that he believed he owned the Sin City Shootout," Scearce said.




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