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    Fall Basketball Playoffs Underway

    1-Page 27-Basketball2-TonyJasinski

    By Tony Jasinski

    The 9-team Castro Fall Basketball League is coming to its normal conclusion: playoffs and fun. The SFGBA has sponsored a league competition since 1996 that’s usually twice a year, one Spring League and one in the fall. As always, there were many fresh faces this season, and the competition was fierce. On Wednesdays, a ‘B’ division of four teams is less brutal, but just as exciting. And, on Thursdays, the more athletic players challenge each other with 5 teams in the ‘A’ division.

    Games are typically attended by dozens of fans and partners and curious folks. The playoffs are usually the optimal time to watch some of our best local athletes.

    It is interesting to note the distinctions in the broad span of gay sports activities in our Bay Area. Most sports programs are built on a similar model, which goes like this: There is usually a single, repeated participation location for each sport that is managed by a small team of people as a nonprofit. All who organize and run local gay sports are volunteers. There are no paid positions within these organizations, although service providers and location fees are often required.

    The breadth of gay sports goes from smaller, individual programs, such as rowing, golf, swimming, wrestling and bowling (which is big in some areas of the country and not in others), to the larger ones, such as track and tennis.

    The bigger team sports run from rugby, football, and hockey, with volleyball being a little larger in participation. Softball has long been the kingpin of all team sports for size and longevity. Basketball is a medium-sized gay sport, with an unfortunate drop-off in participation levels of lesbian-oriented teams.

    There are typically 5 or 6 basketball tournaments every year managed by a national organization called the NGBA (you can guess the words). Often 3 or 4 teams from San Francisco are represented in many tournaments.

    The ultimate goal of gay basketball teams is to medal at the Gay Games, which will be held in Cleveland next summer. Most gay sports have the same ultimate goal, with the exception of softball, which has a World Series crowning achievement.

    For softball and many team sports, teams stay together as much as possible from season to season. They learn the strengths of their teammates, and the camaraderie is strong. However, the SFGBA oddly does it differently for the league’s competitive programs. Every season’s entire roster for teams is redrafted. This has had some enlightening effects. In a given season, a player may get upset at an opposing player for some reason, such as just being competitors. Well, the next season, that player could become a teammate, and a person’s own success would become dependent on their former rival’s good play. It doesn’t always result in them becoming friends, but it has been observed that more respect is given.

    Marco Rodriguez, who is a current team captain, commented, “I think the SFGBA is a great representation of the melting pot that is the Bay Area. I think this season really stands out for everyone working together for our fundraisers and accepting people for who they are and building a sense of community in the league. I feel this is important because it will help with the word of mouth to recruit new faces to keep the league moving forward.”

    On most Sundays, there is open court play, for anyone who might be interested in playing some basketball, at 5pm at the Mark Bingham Gym behind Mollie Stone’s Market in the Castro. Players need to bring a white and a dark t-shirt, as that is how teams are built. A five-dollar donation is needed after the first week
    of play.

    This season there was an open date, so it was decided to do a ‘Tops vs. Bottoms and Shirts vs. Skins’ series of games. Some players showed up with wigs, shorter shorts, and other fun attire. Of course, one highlight of the event was the team that was ‘Skins’ (shirtless), which must have been carefully chosen! One of the referees even put on a bright orange wig too.

    All basketball games are again at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center Gymnasium (also known as Mark Bingham Gymnasium), right behind Mollie Stone’s in the Castro. The playoffs began last night and continue again tonight. The championships of both divisions will be on December 12. All games start at 7pm, with second games starting at 8pm.

    Everyone is invited and encouraged to come and see what these players can do.  Congratulations to the latest excellent leadership team, headed by Johnny Nguyen, on such a successful season!

    For additional information, please go to:

    Tony Jasinski is the founder and former president of the SFGBA.