June 19, 2012 by
Last month, the NGFFL Board unanimously approved format changes to Gay Bowl recommended by the non-Board Gay Bowl Progress & Evolution Task Force. The purpose of the changes is to strike a better balance between competition and camaraderie on and off the field, and showcase the NGFFL, Gay Bowl, and our local leagues as being the greatest places for LGBT people to experience all the wonderful things that come from participation in team sports.
With this goal in mind, it had become clear that format changes were needed to aspire to the organization’s mission and vision. For instance, heading into Gay Bowl XII, only four cities had won the championship, and seeding for the top 10 teams had essentially remained the same. Moreover, last year in Houston, the “points for” of the top four teams totaled 473, while the “points for” the bottom four teams totaled 89. As Gay Bowl has grown, so too has the gap between the strongest and weakest teams.
What was also clear from the player survey, however, was that everyone still wanted a clear shot at winning the title. So the Task Force was charged with organizing more games that were more interesting (read, fewer blowouts) while affording every team the chance to win the championship.
So beginning this year, teams will be seeded according to their results at the previous Gay Bowl. The top 16 seeds will comprise the A Division, and all remaining and new teams will make up the B Division.
Coming out of pool play, there will be a Wild Card Round featuring the bottom four seeds of the A Division versus the top four teams of the B Division. This Wild Card Round affords up-and-coming and new teams the chance break through and compete for the title. It also forces the bottom four seeds of the A Division to prove that they belong in the championship bracket.
Another significant change involves the structure of pool play. In order to organize games that are more competitive, Gay Bowl is going from “snake seeding” (i.e. teams 1, 8, 9, and 16 play one another) to “straight-line seeding” (i.e. teams 1, 5, 9, and 13 play one another). Just like in the NFL, where the Giants (because they won the Super Bowl) will have a tougher schedule in 2012 than the Colts (who went 2-14), the point is to provide tougher competition for the stronger teams, and more appropriate competition for the other teams.
That said, the process for seeding the championship brackets coming out of pool play will remain the same – the higher the seed, the more distinct the advantage.
This month, city leaders were contacted by members of the Task Force about the big changes. And the great majority of responses have been quite positive. Members of the task force have now reached out to the primary points of contact for all 20 NGFFL cities competing at Gay Bowl to ensure that everyone understands the changes and is fully up to speed.
Special thanks are due to the following volunteers who put so much time and effort into this project: Mark Barr (SLC/NYC), Sean Greenleaf (NYC), Wayne Knaub (PHL), Ty Law (CHI/HNL), Shawn Rea (PHX), Chris Whitlow (ATL), and Thurman Williams (ATL/DC).