Long story short, of the $1.5 million dollar budget for a “sporting event” less than 4% of that budget went toward the actual sports. There has been no shortage of outrage from this whole debacle with vendors, athletes, sponsors and long time supporters (including former board members of GLISA) all speaking out against Outgames and GLISA as a result.
The Miami-Dade Police Department in conjunction with the City of Miami have decided not to press charges against the organizers, leaving thousands of athletes, hotels, vendors and other sponsors without resolve and without any kind of refund for the hundreds and thousands of dollars they lost to Outgames. Where does that leave all of us?
How relevant LGBTQ+ are in the future and most importantly and is it worth the investment of time, training and cost of participating?
Without any kind of consequence coming from these very serious missteps and without any kind of accountability or even “lessons learned” what is to stop these organizations from moving forward without changing the fundamental way they organize these events? Not all LGBTQ+ sporting events have been the subject of such fundamental and serious collapse but even those organizations are not immune to the potential fall out. It ultimately comes down to the athlete, and the question of “Is it worth the investment (time, training and cost) for me to participate?”
Following the 2015 Eurogames, the Eurogames parent organization and the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation, were left to scramble what little credibility they had left to recover their reputations and stepped up their efforts to maintain accountability for their brands. As a result they put a lot of pressure on the host committee due to host the 2016 Eurogames in Helsinki to step up their efforts and as a result the Helsinki event turned out to be a much better. This helped to recover the dignity of Eurogames and the EGLSF.
The damage done by GLISA and Outgames however truly has international ramifications from the athletes who traveled halfway around the world to participate. They’ve done more than just damage a brand, they’ve damaged the community. What that means for future “destination” LGBTQ+ sporting events like the 2018 Gay Games in Paris is that Gay Games is left to pick up the pieces.
Despite the lack of charges being filed, many athletes had called their banks and successfully disputed the charges of their registration fees. In addition, many of the hotels and vendors who were not paid for their services are also launching lawsuits against Cano, World Outgames Miami and GLISA for unpaid fees. A potential lawsuit from the athletes as well is in the works.
The lack of accountability for these organizations come from a lack of real representation for the athletes. Without an independent body that represents to interest of LGBTQ+ athletes and demands such accountability and transparency from any and every organization. If us athletes demand a high quality, well organized sporting event, it is up to use to unite and expect nothing less from every organization that seeks to host such an event.
It is time for the remaining LGBTQ+ Sports Organizations to reevaluate the relevance of LGBTQ+ sports. Organizations and events like Federation of the Gay Games, EGLSF, IGLA, IGLFA, NGFFL, Frontrunners, Sin City Shootout and others all have the potential to take the lead and rebuild to empower the LGBTQ+ sports community to keep moving forward. It will take a significant step up in quality, organization and reassurance but most of all actions speak louder than words. We will see if these other organizations are worthy of our investment into their events.