sporting scandal

Did Cleveland Cheat To Win The Gay Games, Or Are Boston And D.C. Just Jealous?

Last September, the Federation of Gay Games chose Cleveland as the host of the 2014 Gay Games. But now Washington D.C. and Boston are complaining that Cleveland may have cheated to win by flouting the bidding rules. The Gay Games are the world’s largest LGBT sporting event and bring millions of dollars and much international esteem to its host city. But did Cleveland really cheat for that honor, or are Boston and D.C. just bitter?

Even though the FGG outlines the Gay Games bidding process rules in a text called “The Red Book,” Boston Spirit magazine says that a series interviews and documents have revealed that Cleveland regularly flouted the rules and got awarded by the selection committee for doing so. Among their claims:

• Cleveland got extra points for offering to host 40 sports whereas The Red Book says you can only host 28 max.

• The guidelines ask that each city’s proposed sporting venues be no more than 15 minutes apart by public transportation. Boston’s are. Cleveland’s golfing venue is over 45 miles away yet still snagged a score of “far beyond expectations.”

• The FGG says it wants long-term financial sponsors. Boston boasted nearly one million dollars more than Cleveland and DC, including money contributed by international and national companies interested in long-term partnerships. Cleveland only pledged $525,000 mostly from “local business owners.”

• Boston allegedly got unfairly low marks for their sports venues and for not having enough sports managers, while Cleveland went well over its allotted 45-minutes in their final presentation to FGG’s voting delegates.

In their defense, Cleveland’s bid organizers say they simply based their proposal on those of prior host cities and that the Red Book’s guidelines often differ from the guidelines in the FGG’s Request For Proposal forms and those stated by FGG officials.

Boston’s bid organizer Steve Harrington concurs. “What upset all of us was the inconsistency of ‘this is what we want, but this is what we’ll reward.’ Or ‘today, this is how the presentations are going to go, but tomorrow they’re going to go this way.’ In every single case, they had written the rules but refused to abide by them.”

According to the FGG’s top judge Darl Schaaff, the final bid scorecards given to the voting delegates don’t reflect the scores shown on the documents viewed by Boston Spirit, meaning that the magazine has an inaccurate record of each city’s final scoring. But even that statement reeks of a convoluted and shady process, though when have athletic organizations ever claimed to traffic in transparency?

Could it be that Cleveland won — not because of “rule-breaking” or superior hosting ability — but because the judges themselves don’t fully understand the city selection process?

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  • edgyguy1426

    I wonder what Pat Robertson will say is the reason both World Cup teams have same sex marriage?

  • PopSnap

    Oops, sorry gay meccas Boston & DC! You can both enjoy your equal marriage rights & give the gay games to a city that could really use some LGBT visibility!

    Seriously. This is just like holding a “which city is the blackest in America, oops its Atlanta 40 years and running” contest. Give another city a chance to represent LGBT people for once that isn’t DC, San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Boston, or NYC.

    People realize that we do exist elsewhere, right? Right? :/

  • Dame Helga von ornstein

    Call me old fashion if you will but I don’t think I would have chosen a title for the organization that read FGG. I don’t know why (and I have tried to think of other things that would work) but I think that title should be rethunk for the initials alone.

    I mean really. I know times have change but I still find that tacky.

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    In the Olympics city selection, well, they really know how to cheat to win: cash by the bundles to committee members, loans with no interest rates to committee members, gifts of jewelry from Tiffany/Cartier, free vacations in the selected city, and, of course, lots of very loose “professional” women “escorts” at lavish restaurant dinners.

    Had Cleveland done those things, well substituting boys for the women, then that would be cheating.


    @ No. 2 PopSnap — I completely agree. The exposure created by the Gay Games in middle America goes a long way to both temper anti-gay bigotry and shows the many still-in-the-closet scared teens see gays/lesbians enjoying life.

    Perhaps the FGG should make overchures to Des Moines; of all places Iowa has marriage equality. Gay Games there would be of their biggest events, make the local community a ton of money, and show that, sure we are wild and fun, but basically we are people.

  • Law

    The red book, from my recollection as a former FGG voter, is mere guidelines. I’ve not been involved in a long time, but it sounds like they need to be more clear. I actually left them because they seem to have their head on backwards and have lost touch.

    Sydney was an excellent host of the 2002 Gay Games and trust me… their venues were WAY more than 15 minutes apart… I seem to recall ice hockey being about 45 minutes on train.

  • Brian

    @Mike in Asheville: So we reward a place with a poor record on gay rights the Games and “make the local community a ton of money.” Do I understand that some people are advocating that we go to middle America and spend our money to buy acceptance?

    If the Gay Games were held in Boston or DC, I would attend — and spend my money.

    I wouldn’t go to Cleveland if they gave me a free suite at the Ritz-Carlton. It is, sadly, a dismal place, and the general population is not very supportive of gay rights.

    Actually I stayed in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton (I paid for it) in 1997 when both Fabrege and Thomas Eakins The Rowing Pictures were on exhibit at The Cleveland Museum of Art. I dropped some dollars at Barney’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if both the Ritz-Carlton and Barney’s are long gone.

    I thought we were supposed to be spending our money in places that support us and boycotting places that don’t.

    The Gay Games in Cleveland will, no doubt, be a success. But I don’t think it will attract as high a number of spectators as Boston or Washington would.

  • PopSnap


    Have you ever even been to Cleveland? Cuyahoga County was the county that was least for Ohio Issue 1 which banned gay marriage, and that was way back during Bush’s “THE GAYS ARE COMING TO GET YOU” stint. They voted for it 51-49, the same margin that Prop 8 passed in California. How do you think other areas fared at that time when it came to anti-marriage equality amendments? I’d be willing to bet that such an amendment would fail in today’s Cleveland.

    Thats the official tourism website- it’s one of their largest sections. Yeah, such an anti-gay place…

  • Joe

    My belief is that FGG chose Cleveland over the other two for entirely political reasons. Some of the “Cleveland” events have to be staged in Akron because Cleveland lacked the facilities. No dis on Cleveland, but I don’t think a Gay Games there will be nearly as high profile and successful (especially to international competitors) as it would have been in DC or Boston.

  • Dawson

    Cleveland has been very busy jumping through hoops trying to make their city more gay friendly (or at least appear that way) because of the gay games. However, you are still talking about a city in a state where you can not freely adopt if you are gay, you can not get married if you are gay, you have no partner benefits if you are gay, you can be kicked out of your house if you are gay and you can lose your job if you are gay. You would think those factors would enter into the selection process.

  • PopSnap


    I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life and know several hundred LGBT people, from all walks of life, stretching from Cleveland to Cinci. Even some *gasp* gay families. Not ONCE has any of them claimed to have been fired or kicked out of their house for being gay. Does it happen? Maybe out in some small, podunk town of 500 where everybody knows everybody. But I highly doubt you’d have an issue with anything like that being openly gay in any of the 3 C’s- even Cincinatti did away with its infamous anti-gay law by popular vote.

    It’s not like we’re Iran or something. Seriously. Nothing gets done because Equality Ohio is completely bungling and inefficient. They’ve done nothing to further our cause but have a pretty website- check it out if you don’t believe me.

    Oh, and as a PS… guess which State has the largest Facebook group in support of marriage equality? Yeah, it’s us backwoods Ohioans.

  • Carl Schultz

    Cologne Germany will be the 5th Gay Games I have participated in living to the ideas that the history and current members of FGG (Federation of the Gay Games) extend to every host city that attempts to host the Quadrennial Event. The journey of a few people within the sport club SC-Janus who took an idea that grew with the submission of a proposal hosting the 2010 Gay Games VIII to the FGG propably began similar with the recent proposals to host the 2014 Gay Games, and that was a conversation between a group of people who wanted to bring an opportunity of the Gay Games to their home. The belief that the Gay Games would benefit their home communities.

    I have worked for 12 years in the Washington D.C. area before moving to Germany in the year 2001. The gay and lesbian culture in Washington D.C., was an attraction to live and work in the area. I did suffer discrimination: Discharged from the military and from private jobs because of my gay identity, the political reality that my husband and I could not legally consumate our life together in Virginia, and other events gave us the opportunity to start another life again together in Germany.

    We traveled the East Coast of the US together. We visit my sister who lives in the area near Boston. The time we have together with my family also allows us to visit the gay and lesbian friends in the Boston area who always welcomed us to their homes.

    My husband was born in and grew up in Ohio. He marvels at the growth of the gay and lesbian culture in Ohio.

    The famous “Red Book” provides the minimum specifications of each sport the FGG prescribes to the bidding host cities. The community representing the host city can add sports to their proposals beyond the minimum “Red Book” specifications before they submit their proposal to the FGG. I listened to members of each bidding city during their pause in the many meetings held in Cologne, last September 2009. The few members I had the chance to discuss their presentation believed they had put their best proposal forward to the voting members of FGG. I had no influence on the FGG members submitting the final votes to select host city of Cleveland.

    Every person has a chance to consider the opportunity and participate in the Gay Games. The strength of the gay community is demonstrated when they bring together all the resources available to prepare the sports and culture, and ultimately perform to their personal best in the Gay Games.

    The gay and lesbian community in Cleveland have a monumental task ahead of them to reach the opening ceremony of the next Gay Games 2014. We are at our personal best as a community when we work together for a better life, especially when there are adverse communities dedicated to our dissolution. We are at our personal best when we give of ourselves to grow an idea to a real tangible benefit, and we let our light shine through our culture, our sports, our communities, our families, and our good lives.

    – Carl Schultz
    Gay Games Cologne 2010

  • Evan

    Actually Cleveland has a superior sports infrastructure to D.C. or Boston. Akron is simply part of the region and has a world-class facilities that command national attention in its own right. You girls need to learn about sports before you blog aboutit.

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