Football takes front and center

First of all, let me add my praise, kudos and admiration to Michael Sam. Of course I didn’t expect a pro footballer to bring the NFL into the light second after the NBA’s Jason Collins came out last year, but then neither did a lot of other people, like retired MLB player Joe Valentine or Wade Davis, author of “My Two Moms.” (Get Out and Play, June 1-7, 2012.)

I must admit I agreed with both of their reasoning and thought football would make a distant last and hockey would have been the first pro sport to celebrate an openly gay player. But that’s the beautiful thing about Sam and Collins: They are not the norm.

These are two exceptional players who, with their whole lives and careers ahead of them, are comfortable enough in their own skin and own their own pride to the extent that they understand the powerful benefit of being real, so that other LGBT sports players and youth who admire them have fantastic role models.

I now firmly expect baseball to embrace its first openly gay player even more strongly when he comes out this year. And I expect that it will happen this year. It’s not just a matter of time, but also a matter of pride and principle.

On another football front, our own Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League is foraging gaily forward with another Gay Bowl fundraiser. On April 11 they will host a flip cup tournament at The Field House with the MS Society Philadelphia Chapter. It’s $30 to pre-register and $35 at the door. Winning team of five takes home $500 and everyone gets a free hangover. Complimentary game beer play and snacks thoughtfully provided by Origlio and Philly Soft Pretzel Company.

Kudos again, this time to the Philadelphia Revolution for placing second in B Division at Sunshine Cup 2014! Rock!

And the other football, soccer, is getting close to moving outdoors, assuming winter doesn’t last past May this year. These guys and gals are so geared up about competing in the Gay Games 9 in Cleveland this summer that they are already registered and talking to the oddsmakers.

If you haven’t registered yet, or even if you have, here’s some incentive to check out gg9cle.org — there is limited dormitory housing available Aug. 9-16 for between $44-$59 per night. There are negotiated rates with about 30 hotels in the Cleveland/Akron area and the sooner you lock yours in, the better your selection and proximity. Check it out now before you forget.

Last, and certainly not least, is another coup in the LGBT sports arena with the Philadelphia Soul announcing the first-ever pro-football LGBT event to be entertained on May 10. Keep your eyes on this column for more details and surrounding special activities!

Guerrilla basketball

The Welcoming Committee, the multi-city group whose slogan is “turning places gay, one night at a time” and which takes over a non-gay establishment every first Friday of the month, is stepping up its game this month. A basketball game, that is. TWC members from Boston are hitting town for the March 7 event and staying over to take over a section at the Sixers game.

If you’re interested in this month’s site, they email the info about 24 hours before, so be sure to register at thewelcomingcommittee.com.

Short stops • Softball has its spring skills day starting 11 a.m. March 15 at Palumbo Field. Bring your glove and get out and play!

Countdown to Gay Games 9: 154 days. If winter ever ends, tell me about your organization’s plans for the upcoming weeks and months, but remember that the sooner I know, the better the coverage! Email [email protected].