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Las Vegas to Host Sin City Shootout

by Roger Brigham
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Thursday Sep 1, 2011
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A mini winter sports festival for LGBT athletes is blooming in the desert.

Next year, the Las Vegas Sin City Shootout, which began five years ago as a softball tournament staged by the Greater Los Angeles Sports Association, will offer four sports from Jan. 12-15: softball, tennis, bodybuilding, and wrestling.

Sin City Tournament Director Eric Ryan said each sport in the weekend’s event will conduct its own registration and run its own tournament, but all participants will be able to take part in the social events.

Registration is open for softball and tennis, which is being run by the Las Vegas Tennis Club. Event interest forms are available from the host Bodybuilding Guild. Hosts Wrestlers WithOut Borders and Southern California Wrestling Club are finalizing plans for two days of freestyle wrestling and no-gi grappling, WWB’s first venture into grappling, and will open registration later this month.

Softball is expected to be the biggest sport in the Shootout, with an expected 2,000 players. Tennis is expected to draw about 100 athletes; bodybuilding and wrestling about 50 each.

Ryan said having each sport responsible for its own tournament made more sense rather than trying to run everything through a single body. The Shootout will collect a small fee from each sport for overhead expenses such as the wristband that will get participants into the event parties.

"We simplify the process and do what makes sense for the players," Ryan told EDGE. "From my standpoint, as far as logistics, I don’t know all of tennis’ needs. I don’t know all of wrestling’s needs. Each sport knows what they need to run the event. Each sport is independent. I don’t see it ever becoming micromanaged."

"Eric Ryan is an excellent host sports director who understands the successful model of getting a critical mass because he comes from sports," said WWB Treasurer Gene Dermody. "He is not just a tourism person interested in overpriced hotel registrations. Even if it took us a year to hash this out before we committed, he never gave up on us, and did his homework to deliver our modest requirements. I expect this event to mushroom every year if it continues with Ryan’s vision of the tried and true model of LGBT sports."

Providing a block of days while allowing the sports to finalize their own tournament arrangements enabled WWB to add grappling after a second tournament day became available. Grappling has never been offered in Gay Games or any WWB events previously, but is a possibility for the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland.

"Grappling is becoming so popular we would be missing the boat if we didn’t recognize its importance and work to promote it along with traditional freestyle wrestling," said SCWC’s Chris Lorefice of the Sin City Shootout tournament. "A lot of our current athletes are interested in grappling and many compete in both types of wrestling. Having a grappling competition as part of the tournament will also help us attract additional athletes who might not have attended otherwise."

Weekend events for Sin City include a cocktail reception at the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Thursday, Jan. 12; player registration Friday, Jan. 13, at Planet Hollywood; parties on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Piranha and Charlie’s; and a closing party on Sunday, Jan. 15, at the Tropicana Hotel.

But don’t expect the athletes to close down the bars at dawn the next day.

"It’s not a circuit party," said Ryan. "These are sports-minded people coming. They don’t want to stay out ’til 6 a.m. They’ve got events to compete in."

As is usual for most LGBT sports events, there are no restrictions on the inclusion of heterosexual athletes in the tennis, wrestling and bodybuilding tournaments. Ryan said a decision had not yet been made as to whether the softball tournament would also be open to all or if it would have a restriction on the number of perceived straights allowed, as is the case in the Gay Softball World Series this week in Chicago. That policy is currently being fought in federal court.

For more information on the Sin City Shootout, visit www.sincityshootout.com.

Roger Brigham, a freelance writer and communications consultant, is the San Francisco Editor of EDGE. He lives in Oakland with his husband, Eduardo.

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