Athletic Supporters

by Jim Provenzano

The San Francisco Fog scrums up. Photo Eric Nielson

The relationship between gay sports and gay bars goes back decades. Thankfully, for both the bars and teams, the affair has been fruitful. From fundraisers like the traditional beer bust, to victory celebrations and fashion shows, GLBT jocks who like to enjoy a beer or two after a game are often some of the more entertaining tavern patrons, and the bars often help them out in many ways.

The San Francisco Fog Rugby Club is no exception. As several member of the historic team settled in during our photo shoot, they changed into jerseys and sipped beers at their sponsor bar The Lone Star Saloon (1354 Harrison St.) and the jokes flew fast.

The jovial nature of The Fog players represents one of the strong connections between a bar sponsor and a sports team. Sponsorships and special events keep GLBT athletic teams and the bar scene connected. In exchange for a little uniform branding, a bar helps pay some of the team’s expenses. Many local softball teams have bars as primary sponsors. Beer marketing often goes hand in glove with game events.

Said Lone Star co-owner Jeffrey “JJ” Beck, “The Fog is a great group to work with. We enjoy them very much. They show us all the importance of unity and endurance.”

Along with three years of The Lone Star sponsoring The Fog, along with its global recognition, the Fog has enjoyed two consecutive winning seasons in 2010 and 2011, making the playoffs both of those years.

“Last year marked our first home playoff game ever as a club,” said club captain Daniel Crowley. “This increased success all came while the NCRFU (our rugby union) expanded from 11 to 16 members in Division III in 2010.”

Crowley calls The Lone Star “the official home of SF Fog Rugby,” adding that the bar provides us a venue for fundraising and recruitment and helps them reach financial goals.

SF Fog members at their sponsor bar The Lone Star Saloon. Photo: Georg Lester

“But more than that,” Crowley said, “The Lone Star provides an environment and community for our team where they feel welcome and where patrons are happy to see us.  We’re happy to wear their logo on our uniforms, and when we walk in and see JJ or the patrons in our gear there, it just reinforces how good of a fit it is.”

Upcoming Fog fundraisers at The Lone Star include the March 9 return of “Fog Fridays,” 8pm to 11pm, which Crowley said “serves as our Homecoming to The Lone Star for 2012.  We’re very excited about it.” Fog Fridays are usually monthly.

To see The Fog play live in action-packed rugby tradition, visit their website. And wish them well when they trek to Manchester, England for the annual Bingham Cup, June 1-3.

And while you may not witness some of the more rowdy, and nudity-filled- celebrations some other rugby clubs have become famous for, when asked, Crowley did comment on the relationship between rugby and beer.

“When most sports moved towards professionalization, rugby resisted.  The social aspect of the game is deeply engrained, and helps keep relationships friendly in one of the most violent sports played.  The ‘drink up’ or ’social’ after rugby matches is very much respected, across not only rugby is the US, but rugby worldwide.

“More than most sports I’ve been a part of, rugby clubs feel like family,” Crowley continued. ”Given that, it’s definitely possible that rugby attracts people who are looking for more than a mere athletic outlet.  They’re also looking for a social atmosphere.  I also think the sport lends itself to a great deal of camaraderie.  Every sport requires you to depend on your teammates, but there are many facets of rugby where you are literally attached to your teammates and you become an extension of them: in the ruck, the maul, the lineout, and most notably, the scrum.  I think rugby, because of these aspects, lends itself to building a strong sense of community on the field, and the social aspect rugby is known for off the pitch is an extension of that.”

For more info on the club’s schedule, including matches and fundraisers, visit

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Fog Fridays

Lone Star Saloon
1354 Harrison St.
San Francisco, CA

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