December 15, 2018 at 9:11 am EST | by Kevin Majoros
Sin City Classic LGBT sports tourney returns in mid-Jan.
Sin City Classic, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. athletes at last year’s Sin City Classic. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Majoros)

The 12th annual Sin City Classic sports festival will return on Jan. 17-20 in Las Vegas with about 6,500 LGBT athletes expected to compete in 21 sports.

Originally run as a softball tournament hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Softball Association, the event began receiving requests for more sports to be added to the lineup which has led to steady, successful growth.

The festival provides a competitive, fun and safe environment for amateur LGBT athletes from around the world to come together, compete and connect. This year they have adopted a new initiative, “Play You,” which promotes an open environment for everyone to play sports in a safe space.

Formerly known as the Sin City Shootout, the tournament rebranded two years ago as a show of respect for the shootings in Orlando and Las Vegas. Several new features have been added to this year’s festival.

“We have been experiencing a positive energy and vibe over the last 12 months and are excited to add on new aspects of the festival,” says Ken Scearce, tournament director for Sin City Classic. “Everything we do outside of the sports venues is an attempt to appeal to both the millennials and the older crowd. Food and alcohol are a good place to start, music is a little more difficult.”

Four more sports were added this year to their lineup including competitive cheer and esports. A Sunday Funday has been added for athletes who are knocked out of tournament play early. Also new is a Cornhole for Charity event and returning is the Sports Diversity Leadership Conference.

“We are excited to add the new cornhole event,” Scearce says. “The final four teams will get to battle in public at the Friday night registration party.”

Scearce competes as a softball player in L.A. but will not be playing on one of the expected 240 softball teams in Las Vegas. The event is run entirely by volunteers and as tournament director, he will be stretched to the limit.

His excitement is palpable though and he points to Sin City Classic’s 12 sponsors including Toyota, who is returning as the presenting sponsor.

“I am really excited about the opportunity for so many of our sponsors to get to know our athletes,” Scearce says. “It’s incredible that the Los Angeles Dodgers are investing in us and that we are getting these brands in front of everyone and introducing LGBT sports to these brands.”

Stonewall Sports is a national organization based in D.C. that promotes sports and safe inclusive spaces that go beyond sports. Their sports leagues are now in 16 cities across the United States with Salt Lake City being their most recent addition.

The upcoming Sin City Classic will be the sixth year that Stonewall Sports has sent member cities to the tournament. They are expecting close to 300 of their athletes to be competing in multiple sports.

“Sin City Classic is a great event and an opportunity to kick off the new year and compete with other Stonewall teams,” says Martin Espinoza, co-founder and President of Stonewall Sports. “Our own national tournament hosted every July and our regional tournaments were created from our great experiences at Sin City.”

To enhance the experience for their member cities, Stonewall Sports provides shuttle bus service to venues in Las Vegas and chips in for team apparel.

“We are proud to host a meet and greet table again this year at the registration party,” Espinoza says. “It’s great to see everyone from all the cities.”

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