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Womens lacrosse plays (and beats) Johns Hopkins Credit: Monica Martin

The combination of a Jimmy John’s sub-eating contest, an egg toss, and a three-legged race taking place on Hill Field yesterday might have seemed like just an avarage, wacky field day.

But the 14 teams facing off in yesterday’s Pride Games were fighting for far more than the spirit of competition.

Sponsored by Penn Athletes and Allies Tackling Homophobia (PATH), the Pride Games are held to strengthen ties between the athletic and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Athletic teams, groups from the LGBT community and, for the first time, a fraternity, joined together in a number

The men’s track team was ultimately victorious, while Phi Kappa Sigma and the women’s volleyball team took second and third.

As a part of QPenn 2010, the Pride Games capped off a week that celebrated Penn’s LGBT culture.

“The whole point of it is to bring athletes and LGBT people together in a fun competition,” said founder Anna Aagenes, who is a captain of the women’s track team.

With six of the total teams comprised of athletes, it was evident that PATH succeeded.

“[I was] interested in participating in something fun, and something that represented appreciation for diversity within the athletic teams at the university,” freshman distance runner Leslie Kovach said.

Events included an eating contest, a three-legged race, a fruit punch chugging contest, a pushup contest, an egg toss, an M&M; straw race and a drag competition.

The men’s track team won the three-legged race, while the women’s basketball team earned a contested win in the eating contest.

The Pride Games began two years ago when Aagenes felt that a “field day” competition would be beneficial to improve athlete’s acceptance and comfort with the LGBT community.

As a member of the Executive Board for QPenn, she and LGBT Center employee Nina Harris teamed up with PATH to create the event.

And every year, the event has grown.

“Each year we have more teams; each year it’s become something that people really look forward to,” Aagenes said. “We [have received] support that we never had imagined.”

Participating athletes, such as Kovach, contribute to that support.

“I think we should support and accept people regardless of their backgrounds or their beliefs,” Kovach said. “As athletes, we need to be supportive of one another.”

PATH is the first group of its kind in the nation, beginning as a task force attempting to narrow the divide between the LGBT and athletic community. Membership was initially in the single digits, lacking varsity and male athletes.

But PATH membership has, and continues, to grow as campus involvement increases.

For the past two years, PATH held a “Homophobia in Sports” panel that discussed homophobia in the athletic community and the struggle members of the LGBT community can face to become visible in athletics.

According to Aagenes, many LGBT athletes do not feel they have support in sports and may not come out to their teams.

But if the success of the Pride Games is any indication, those attitudes may soon be changing.

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