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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chicagoan creates gay sports online network
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-06-25

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Tyler Foerster went away from the norm for his New Year's Resolution for 2011. That's when he purchased a domain name and began designing a logo and development begun. Six months later, Foerster's resolution came to fruition when the US Gay Sports Network (USGSN.com ) was launched.

Two years later, his resolution isn't just alive—it's thriving.

The website started with one city (Chicago) and three sports (flag football, basketball, and softball). In 2012, three cities were added: Houston, Philadelphia and Atlanta. This year, new cities include San Diego, South Florida, New York and Denver.

From a tournament standpoint, it began with Chicago's Pride Bowl (flag football) in 2011, held each June. Since, the site has covered more than a dozen flag football, basketball and softball tournaments.

"A number of factors drove development of the US Gay Sports Network, [starting with] the fact that there was nothing else like it out there," said Foerster, 26, who lives in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. "I developed USGSN to collect data from other leagues to form a unified network for all LGBT sports. Another [factor] was simply because I was relocated to the middle of nowhere for a job and got extremely bored.

"The Gay Bowl, [which is] the national flag football tournament, was held in Phoenix in 2010, and was really when the idea [for USGSN] started floating around in my head. Now I spend every minute of my spare time on developing and maintaining the site."

USGSN reports scores and more from such local gay sports as basketball, dodgeball, flag football, soccer and softball. Each city/league gets its own schedule, scoreboard and standings page.

"I collect other league's scores and information from my designated contacts for that city/sport," Foerster said. "They report to me with scores weekly. The faster the information is relayed, the faster they're updated on USGSN. Most leagues have their own website, but permit me to repost those scores on my site. However, some leagues do not have the resources to have a website, so USGSN.com provides a place for them to post results."

The best thing about USGSN is the team pages, Foerster said. Take, for instance, the San Diego flag football league. "By selecting a team on the schedule, scoreboard or standings pages on USGSN, you will be directed to that team's page, which includes the schedule and results for that team, logo, home and away colors, team photo and charts of multiple stats, such as points for and points against per game.

"You also can download a PDF or excel file for that team to keep track yourself. And of course, those pages are also linked to other teams so the user has the command to jump from page to page easily."

Foerster has personally played almost every sport offered by the predominantly gay Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA), including flag football, soccer, softball, volleyball, dodgeball, basketball and CMSA's newest league, Ultimate.

"In years past, the best part of CMSA used to be the competitiveness of other players who had something in common with me," Foerster said. "Eventually it was less about the competitiveness and more about the camaraderie of playing with and against friends from previous teams and/or other sports. The social environment of CMSA is what brings me back year after year, and the best part is that Chicago is one of the top sports cities in America."

Foerster said he has numerous website goals set for the next two years. "Short term, I'd like to add a couple more cities and leagues to the network. We've recently doubled our league size, next we're going to increase the number of sports we cover in those cities," he said. "Long term, our goal is to be the main resource for all leagues around America, and perhaps internationally."

A smartphone app is in development, he said.

Foerster designed, developed and coded the entire website.

The site is not yet a money-maker, he said.

"One day there will be revenue generated to keep this website up and running, but at this moment there is none," Foerster said. "In a perfect world, the website ... ultimately wouldn't exist. In a perfect world, my fellow LGBT athletes wouldn't feel discouraged from playing sports as kids. That's why these [gay] leagues are formed—to bring individuals [together] with a common LGBT connection to play and compete in a safe and fun place. That's why this website is available for these leagues and players."

Foerster said the website will, ultimately, bring cities and leagues together. "We want to be the sports news outlet for individuals that compete at an amateur level within the LGBT community," he said.

USGSN has partnered with another network in Miami that streams live video of tournaments online. "Together we can bring you every aspect of reporting live sports, scores, statistics and updates as they happen," Foerster said. "Viewers can watch and get play by play with full reporting, like they have [at] the professional levels. "

USGSN will be offering live coverage of the 6th annual Chicago Pride Bowl flag football tournament in late June, marking the third year in a row that USGSN has provided scores and statistics for the second-largest annual flag football tournament.

For more information, visit www.usgsn.com, Facebook and Twitter (@USGSN).


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