In most levels of football, the biggest games are from Thanksgiving into the New Year.
But it’s different in the LGBT football world, where the most important dates on the calendar are Chicago’s own Pride Bowl – which coincides with the annual June celebration of the same name – and the Gay Bowl.
The latter is for bragging rights to be the best of the best in LGBT football and rotates among various cities each fall; the 2012 event is set for this weekend in Denver.
As usual, there will be a significant Chicago contingent at Gay Bowl, befitting the city’s clout in the LGBT football world.
Four local teams are entered: the Chicago Freeze, seeded sixth among 30 men’s teams, in the A Division; the Chicago Blaze in the B Division; and the Chicago BruiseHers Blue and Black squads in the Women’s Division.
The Freeze, captained by Tyler Foerster and Steven Brehm, is essentially a Chicago all-star team that includes a core group of players from the Chicago Wreckers.
Chicago’s A Division entry reached the quarterfinals of last year’s Gay Bowl, which was cut short by bad weather, and hopes are high again.
“It’s a collection of some very talented players,” said Brian Kupersmit, the Pride Bowl director. “We think they’ll do pretty well.”
That there are other levels of competition – this is the first year for B and Women’s divisions – speaks to the expanding popularity of LGBT football both locally and nationally.
Here in Chicago, the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association fall league is underway with 22 teams involved.
Already the largest local league in the country, CMSA could get even bigger, according to Kupersmit.
“If everybody played one less game, we could probably grow three to six teams,” he said. “I would be fine growing within the context of the field space we have. I don’t want to dilute the experience.”
Would the Chicago LGBT football experience ever include hosting the Gay Bowl? That remains to be seen.
“It’s always a possibility,” Kupersmit said. “What we are always trying to think about is, Would we want to have both (the Gay Bowl and Pride Bowl) in the same year?”
How that will play out, including whether Pride Bowl might go on hiatus if Gay Bowl comes to town, is uncertain. What probably won’t happen is anything that might slow the growth of a sport that has all the momentum of a linebacker chasing down an elusive quarterback.