Film Review: F(l)ag Football

The little-known strata of gay men who love and regularly play sports is the focus of this amiable, if less than incisive, documentary.
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Seth Greenleaf’s doc F(l)ag Football sheds light on a little-known aspect of the gay community, which may surprise some who might think flag football would never hold any interest for a tribe that seemingly prefers Broadway musicals, operas and the ballet. Greenleaf, however, is on a mission to teach your everyday working Joe just how much he has in common with guys who like guys.

Greenleaf takes three different teams and follows them as they gear up for the annual gay Super Bowl tournament, the climax of the national gay football league, which was started ten years ago and now boasts teams in over 21 cities. Various players of different nationalities are interviewed and we get a sense of what it was like for many of them, growing up bullied and baited, sometimes by family members as well as cruel classmates. But somehow, an unabated love of football was instilled in them, and the league fulfills their needs for both a sports pastime and deep friendship.

They are a scrappy bunch indeed, with an appealing, easy and jocular way with one another. I just wish Greenleaf had gone further in depth with the interviews and spoken to more subjects rather than focusing on his first-string players, particularly the motley crew which comprise the accomplished New York Warriors. Their dedication to and passion for a game familiar to many of us from grade school are undeniably impressive, but a lot of their answers to questions sound alike, and a blandness (not to mention a slightly grating self-satisfaction) sets in early on. A few members of the league—some of whom hail from actual NFL experience—have more than average-sized egos that rise to the surface, resulting in swaggering Type A-like attitude towards nervous autograph seekers and a particularly ferocious exchange of words by two African-American players.

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