by Brian Burns and Judd Proctor
“Dreaming of a Gay Olympics”
The concept of a gay Olympics is credited to a competitor in the 1968 Olympics, named Dr. Tom Waddell. But in 1982, just three weeks before the first gay Olympics was to take place in San Francisco, The United States Olympic Committee obtained a restraining order, forbidding the use of the word “Olympics.”
Although the Committee had not objected to the use of the word in events like the Nebraska Rat Olympics, the Crab Cooking Olympics, or even the Nude Olympics, Waddell lost his fight in a 1987 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
So, he named his event the Gay Games. Still one of the largest sporting events in the world, Waddell’s mission continues – to educate people through sport, in the spirit of better understanding.
“Honoring Tom Waddell”
The creator of the Gay Games was Dr. Tom Waddell. He’d planned to name it the Gay Olympics, but in 1982 lost his court battle against the U.S. Olympic Committee.
In 1987, while losing his fight with AIDS, the courts even ruled that the U.S. Olympic Committee could have their legal fees of $92,000 levied against his home.
By 1994, the Committee had a new posture, giving openly gay Olympic Champ Greg Louganis its highest award. In his acceptance speech, Louganis dedicated the award to Tom Waddell. Further, he implored the USOC to move the volleyball competition of the 1996 Olympics out of homophobic Cobb County, Georgia.
Not only did they honor his request, but in 1996 they listed Gay Games IV in its annual handbook under noteworthy events.
“Stellar Athlete, Babe Didrikson”
In recorded history, there has not been another athlete that has excelled in so many different sports as Texas-born Babe Didrikson. A star in track and field, she also excelled in archery, billiards, boxing, tennis, golf and bowling.
Born in 1911, she played ball with the neighborhood boys, earning the name “Babe” after baseball hero Babe Ruth. Excelling in high school basketball, she once scored 106 points in a single game.
Mastering an entire roster of sports, Babe Didrikson was a celebrity in her day. In a 1932 track and field championship, she entered eight events and won six of them – setting records in the 80-meter hurdles, high jump, the javelin and baseball throw.
Then she set world records in track and field events and earned three medals in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
In 1934 she turned to golf, going on to win fifty-five professional and amateur tournaments with a record eleven wins in a row.
While married to professional wrestler George Zaharias, Babe toured with close companion Betty Dodd. The three of them eventually lived under the same roof. Dodd once said of George, “We always had a lot more fun when he wasn’t around.”