It’s not too early to prepare for Gay Games 9

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At first blush, talking about an event still 18 months out might seem somewhat overzealous, but athletes and site directors are in accord: It is less time than you think. For the athletes, training and practice are part of their regular routine for this once-every-four-years LGBTQA competition. And for Thomas Nobbe, executive director of the 2014 Cleveland/Akron convergence, the event is coming up quickly.

Nobbe said that at this stage organizers are recruiting 11,000 athletes to compete, attempting to raise $2.1 million and strategizing 35 non-sports events to go alongside the hundreds of competitions slated to begin Aug. 9, 2014. Another daunting task is getting visitors familiar and comfortable with northeast Ohio before the first sounds of the opening ceremonies that summer.

Sponsorships are key to raising large amounts of money to cover costs, according to Nobbe. Facilities, officials, ceremonies, tickets and special events are just a few of the many expenditures associated with a single sporting event, let alone hundreds of them. The opening and closing ceremony spectaculars, as well as other organized programs, add to the expenses.

So as obvious as it seems for the organizers in Cleveland to keep going, why would athletes and teams around the country want to plan this far ahead?

“A valuable contribution this early is general registration. Every person who registers early helps the organization in a lot of ways,” Nobbe said. “The more people we have registered early, the easier it is for us to talk to potential sponsors and say, ‘Look. We have 5,000 people already signed up.’”

Nobbe also stressed that “we are an all-inclusive organization, which means even LGBT allies are invited to join us.” At this time, there are even tentative plans for an “Ally House” patterned after the Olympics Pride House for allies to have a comfortable place to hang out.

There are many other considerations for participants this early in the game. Next time I will tell you how non-athletes, partners of athletes and others can watch, participate or even compete for some of those sports you wouldn’t expect in other games. For information on GG9, visit www.gg9cle.com.

Big Game Event III

If you’re still questioning where to watch Super Bowl XLVII (that’s 47, for the Roman-numerically challenged), then your answer should be Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League’s third annual Big Game Event Super Bowl party fundraiser for Action AIDS.

For only $40, you get a big-screen game, great food and an open bar starting at 6 p.m., or you can be a VIP for only $65 and start getting your game on an hour earlier. You don’t have to be a flag-football player or even like football — come and watch the commercials and enjoy the festivities. Plus, there is a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle so you could leave with parting gifts and more money than you came in with! Big Game Event III is Feb. 3 at Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. For more information, visit www.phillyflagfootball.com or www.actionaids.org. It may be a spectator event, but it’s a great time to get out and play!

Short stops • Cowboy boots and Speedos will be a different look on the ICandy dance floor Feb. 2 as the Fins try some country line dances starting at 7 p.m. Free admission and a 50/50 raffle fundraiser for the organization means everyone can join in the dancing or just watch! • Also on the Fins’ calendar: The Postal Swim is Jan. 27, and there is still time to donate, pledge or volunteer to help. • GPFFL’s competitive team, Revolution, is in final preparations for its winter challenge, the Florida Sunshine Cup, Feb. 15-17 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. You can still catch them at practice Saturdays until then; www.phillyflagfootball.com. • Gryphon’s Rugby Football Club is pushing winter out of the way with a pre-spring-season party 9 p.m. Feb. 2 at Mikey’s Sports Bar, 3180 Chestnut St. The first spring practice is Feb. 9 and Boot Camp is Feb. 16. This is the time to make some new buds with these roughnecks and get information about play; www.Philadelphiagryphons.org.

Countdown to Gay Games 9: 560 days. Send your questions, comments and photo opportunities to [email protected].