Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-29
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

GAY GAMES Rob Smitherman: Working (and playing) at the Games
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
2010-07-28

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Rob Smitherman will be playing basketball this summer in his fourth Gay Games … at least that's the tentative plan.

You see, he also has to work at the Gay Games, for the Gay Games. Just as he did in Chicago in 2006.

Smitherman, 50, an Uptown resident, has been living and working in Cologne, Germany—site of the quadrennial Games, which begin July 31—since Jan. 15. He is the sports manager, which, he said, "involves dealing with some of the issues and problems that arise in the areas of sport registration and organization, especially team sports."

Smitherman worked for the Chicago Gay Games and, therefore, met some of the Cologne organizers. And they then asked him to come to Cologne to help with their Games after talking with people in Chicago and the Federation of Gay Games.

"The experience has been great," Smitherman said. "The Games Cologne office is on Rudolfplatz, in the center of the gay area of downtown Cologne. The staff and volunteers are all very dedicated and committed to making the Cologne Games a great event."

Smitherman, who is single, had been an attorney in Virginia before moving to Chicago to work for the Chicago Gay Games. Since the end of the Chicago Games, he has been a consultant at a national real estate development company. Plus, he has been helping coach basketball at a local middle school.

"I knew [ working in Cologne ] would be interesting and sometimes challenging, but you never know what the issues will be," he said. "For instance, we are trying to find quality referees and officials. In Chicago [ in 2006 ] , we had challenges in some sports that were mainly [ dominated by ] European [ participants ] , while here it is harder to find officials in the more traditionally American sports," such as softball.

Smitherman managed eight sports in Chicago.

"Chicago had only two and a half years to prepare while Cologne has had more than four years. So planning here is hectic, but more relaxed and structured," he said. "I think the 2010 Games will be excellent, well-run and great fun.

"A major strength is the city of Cologne itself. The city center is small, very walkable. And many of the sports events are taking place in one area, the Sportpark and sport university, so soccer, softball, swimming, beach volleyball, water polo, track and field, and table tennis will all occur in the same area."

Smitherman predicted one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 Games will be, "how much fun people will have in Cologne, a city that can really put on a party."

And the sports will be world class, he added.

For example, the soccer tournament, which is almost at capacity, has teams from all over the world, including Australia, South Africa, Paris, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Japan and the United States.

Registration will be less what many organizers predicted, and below most of the past Games. The worldwide economic crisis is definitely hitting the Games directly.

"A large number of participants from the past Gay Games have come from the United States and Australia. But the cost of the trip to Europe, especially with the resent economic problems worldwide, has caused some participants to stay home," Smitherman said. "That said, we are expecting about 10,000 participants, and thousands of others who will just come for the events, sports, Opening and Closing ceremonies, and [ the ] parties."

Smitherman admitted that he isn't sure yet what his role will entail during the eight-day event, but he definitely wants to shoot some three-pointers and more for his basketball team.

"I have played basketball in all [ of my past Games ] , yet haven't gotten a medal. But that's just not that important for me," Smitherman said. "The feeling of participating in a gay sporting event, especially the Gay Games, is so fulfilling.

"I cannot wait to have my fellow Chicagoans come to Cologne and find the great sports, events and city hospitality that Chicago offered four years ago," he added.

Smitherman admitted that the cultural differences between Chicago and Cologne have been "a bit of a challenge." The language is one, although almost everyone speaks English to some degree. And, on Sundays and holidays, everything except restaurants and cafés are closed. So, no grocery stores, no laundromats, nothing.

"So, you have to plan well, and your Sundays are left without chores, a day to enjoy, go to a café or spend time with friends," he said. "Cologne is one of the two gay capitals of Germany, along with Berlin. It has more than a hundred gay bars, restaurants, pubs and shops. There is a huge gay population here, and it is very open. Cologne [ is ] the most liberal and accepting city in Germany, if not in Europe as a whole. The gay life here is great. And it has the largest gay sports group in the country, SC Janus."

So how does gay Cologne compare to gay Chicago?

"Well, Cologne has about 6 million fewer people, so it is hard to compare," Smitherman said. "They do have lots of 'club parties' here, more than [ in ] Chicago. I think. And the gay life is more dispersed—most of the city center is gay or gay-friendly—but there is no distinct neighborhood like Boystown or Andersonville. The bars are smaller, but they are less defined to one particular scene. And even though I have suggested it, no bar has a showtunes night [ like at the Chicago club Sidetrack ] or Male Call [ a feature at the Chicago club Roscoe's ] ."

Smitherman will remain in Cologne until a few weeks after the Games, and then he's back to Chicago—to look for a new job.

"I love this work and think it is important to us and for future generations of gays and lesbians," Smitherman said. "I grew up thinking that there was something wrong with me, I was not like everyone else. I finally figured out that I was gay and that was not wrong, but, in a small town, I thought that there were no other people like me who loved sports, competition and being part of a team.

"In the Gay Games and through gay sports in general, I found a more complete life. I hope that the Gay Games, and all the leagues and tournaments throughout the world can offer that to others. In many places we have 'won,' [ such as in ] the big cities of North America and western Europe we are at least tolerated if not accepted. But we have people coming from eastern Europe who cannot use their real names because they would face discrimination at home. We have countries of the world who consider being gay a criminal act punished by imprisonment or death. We have people in smaller towns in the U.S., Canada, Australia and western Europe who have never heard of the Gay Games and think they are alone in loving sports and athletics, and just happen to be gay. And we still have no out gay man, and very few open lesbians, playing in a major team sport throughout the world.

"Until we have equality throughout the world we need to offer gay sports, especially the Gay Games, to show that we are here, and we deserve to be treated fairly and without discrimination."


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

LETTERS Let the Games begin 2015-07-29
Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame honorees inducted 2015-07-29
Salve Regina: A Coming of Gay Story at Center in August 2015-07-28
Boy Scouts end ban on gay leaders, with religious exemption 2015-07-27
Obama makes pro-gay remarks in Kenya 2015-07-26
Knight at the Movies: Do I Sound Gay?; Black Alphabet; restored films 2015-07-22
Boy Scouts looks ahead to vote on gay leaders 2015-07-17
EEOC: Lesbians and gays are protected from job bias under Title VII 2015-07-16
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Singing gay icons 2015-07-15
MOVIES David Thorpe: It's okay to sound 'gay' 2015-07-15
National: Gay Catholic move; Jimmy Carter; trans health app 2015-07-14
Tennis player's anti-gay comments start backlash 2015-07-12
Daughter of Gay Games founder opposes merge with World Outgames 2015-07-09
White House protesters; Gay firm has new attorney; Locals in top 40 2015-07-08
2015 Action Camp, for gay-straight alliances, is its largest ever 2015-07-07
Wreath laying honors gay pioneers in Philadelphia, begins 50th Anniversary weekend 2015-07-02
Gay sports news 2015-07-01
National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame July 24 2015-06-30
Gay United Airlines pilots on their careers, life outside of work 2015-06-24
BUSINESS Gay Chicagoan opens Wrigleyville hairstyling facility 2015-06-24
BOOKS 'Crossword' a study of gay Mexican identity 2015-06-24
Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer 2015-06-24
Book examines the great gay riot 2015-06-24
Biography of gay pioneer Barbara Gittings out in time for Pride 2015-06-18
Gay fathers club growing rapidly in Chicago 2015-06-16
Windy City Gay Chorus, Windy City Treble Quire to perform "When You Believe" 2015-06-13
ACLU recognizes Kirkland & Ellis in Michigan victory for gay, lesbian couples 2015-06-09
Sec Def announces protections for gay, lesbian troops, no mention of trans 2015-06-09
GayCo presents Daughter of Pridezilla during Pride Month 2015-06-05
Chigaygo announces "The All-Star Sparkly Unicorn Pride Show" 2015-06-05
Nominations open for the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame 2015-06-03
SENIOR MOMENTS God-fearing pedophiles and creepy gays 2015-06-03
THEATER REVIEW Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South 2015-06-03
Late gay baseball player Burke to be honored 2015-06-03
Vocalist Melissa Young tours gay rights movement in song, comedy 2015-06-01
Pentagon to add non-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian troops 2015-05-29
Gay Black comic has concert film 2015-05-27
VEHICLE REVIEW That's so gay: 2015 Chrysler 300 big and butch as you are 2015-05-27
World : Moscow Pride canceled again; Swiss anti-gay ruling 2015-05-26
Gay-owned barber shop opens in Uptown 2015-05-26
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.