Denver gay flag football swells in fall season
September 13, 2012 | 3:48 pm
Colorado is known as an athletic state – from fitness freaks to sports fans – and that rings true when it comes to local sports leagues. In Denver, Gay and Lesbian Flag is surging.
Denver’s league, founded in 2007, has grown to be the fifth largest Gay and Lesbian Flag Football League in the nation with 280 players on 20 teams, said Lou Bardach, volunteer referee and communications chairman for the Gay Bowl. When enrollment opened online for the 2012 spring season, the spots filled within a few hours – so the league added four additional teams for the current fall season that began mid-August, Bardach said.
“It’s a recreational league, and while there are players who have played in high school, some have never touched a football before,” Bardach explained the league’s philosophy, which mixes up players of different skill levels to balance the league. “It’s about community,” he said, “a great way to meet people outside a bar.”
Denver’s league is also a leader in women’s participation, at one-third female, Bardach said. All the teams that play in the regular season are co-ed.
This fall, the league will get an extra boost: The 12th annual Gay Bowl, the Gay & Lesbian Flag Football League’s national championship, is coming to the metro area September 21-23 with games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park just north of Denver in Commerce City.
Unlike the regular-season teams, Denver’s delegation to the annual gay bowl is built through tryouts, and there will most likely be two Denver teams for locals to cheer at this year’s Gay Bowl, Bardach said. The regular teams are co-ed – but mostly men – and for the first time ever, this year’s Bowl will have a dedicated women’s division.
Denver beat out San Diego in its bid to host the Gay Bowl this year, and the host stadium, which is also home to Colorado’s professional soccer team, the Colorado Rapids, is “probably one of the best fields ever” for the Gay Bowl, Bardach said.
Denver won the bid because it’s a place where people want to go, said Bardach. “Denver is known as cute, fun and for partiers – it’s made a good name for itself.”
Entrance to the Gay Bowl is free and open to spectators, and it will feature a beer garden and food vendors, each day of games followed by local events at venues around Denver.
And while registration is closed for the regular season, the games are a good place to learn about the league.
“The best way to get a feel for it is come and watch,” Bardach said, “and get on our mailing so you know when registration begins next year.”