A gay flag football league? Yeah, when you think about it today, its mere existence should not be surprising. In F(l)ag Football, director Seth Greenleaf, tears down that obvious stereotype that being gay is not an attack on one masculinity, athleticism or desire to be the best.
The film follows three amateur flag football teams training and competing their way to the National Gay Flag Football Championships in Phoenix, AZ. The teams are the New York Warriors, Los Angeles Motion and the Phoenix Hellraisers. New York and Los Angeles are the teams to beat with Los Angeles defending last year’s victory.
On its own, F(l)ag Football is a fascinating documentary about the game of flag football. I soon realized that it was more interesting to watch a film about a gay league over a plain documentary about flag football.
“Are gay teams better than straight teams?”
Greenleaf spends the first quarter of the movie addressing the important questions regarding gay versus straight athletes. Are there physical differences? Are there differences in one’s drive to train and be the best? Are gay teams better than straight teams? And the ultimate question, if you’re trying to prove there are no physical differences between gay and straight athletes, why does a gay league even need to exist?
As with any film about sports, the story more than just the game. Every team has players who have overcome obstacles, just to play the game. Also, every team has drama. Everyone wants to win, but who do you turn to when you lose.
Teams have characters. For the Los Angeles Motion, there is veteran player Cyd Ziegler. Ziegler is one of the league’s top players. He is considered a mentor and team leader. He turned the Los Angeles Motion into a winning team. He was also a former member of the New York Warriors.
After Cyd’s departure, the New York Warriors turned to former NFL player, Wade Davis. He retired from professional football early due to injury. Davis’ mission is to fill the void left by Ziegler and bring the Warriors their much-deserved championship.
Then there are the colorful characters, who either stick out or inspire. For Los Angeles, it is Jeremiah Phipps as the team’s trash talker. He angers his opponent into making mistakes and annoys his teammate into playing better. Then there is the league’s only transgender female, Molly. Playing for New York, Molly is also one of the most aggressive players on the field.
“…a glimpse into the world of gay athletics but lacks controversy you may normally associate with a film addressing LGBTQ issues.”
The league is in its tenth year and continues to grow. Its growth includes the unveiling of the new Lombardi-style trophy and the first induction of the National Gay Flag Football League Hall of Fame. LA’s Cyd Ziegler is part of the first year’s inductees.
F(l)ag Football is a fascinating documentary shedding light on an organization that most of us outside the LGBTQ community never knew existed. It brings out the drama required of any documentary following a championship season. We root for the team and its players. We sit in suspense following each play to victory.
Let’s face it. You’ll like this film if you like sports specifically flag football, and are interested in LGBTQ issues. F(l)ag Football is a glimpse into the world of gay athletics but lacks controversy you may normally associate with a film addressing LGBTQ issues, which may be a good thing.
F(l)ag Football (2017) Directed by Seth Greenleaf. Featuring Cyd Ziegler and Wade Davis.
3.5 out of 5 stars