For the past few years, SFGN has foolishly been promoting the international gay polo tournament in South Florida as if it was important. Negligently, we even ran their annual romp on the front page three years in a row. No newspaper in the country gave them the publicity and coverage we did.
These choices were mine. I felt the polo dudes were making novel outreaches into the LGBT community. As talented gay athletes harnessing a rare and difficult sport, it made news. Fours year later, I am kicking myself. I should be swatting myself with one of their polo mallets.
You see, this year I began playing in the gay softball league again. OK, so maybe it should be called the gay senior league. Anyway here’s the thing, the LGBT softball leagues are not a once a year event, where some rich guys pop in and out of town with their hard sticks. The softball leagues are day in, week out, and year round.
These leagues feature hundreds of players sponsored by dozens of local businesses playing in the Hurricane Thanksgiving tournaments and the Gay World Series. Our community owns Mills Pond Park on Sundays, from players between the ages of 18 and 70. We are truly ‘out’ there.
Therefore, this newspaper owes an apology to all of you. We should have been writing more about you, your leagues, and your enthusiasm in the community. There are gay sports teams all over South Florida, from the Nadadores swimming team to a flag football league. We have to do a better job of covering your participation in our community.
Having said that, there are no ads for Gay Polo this year. It is not because we did not want to write about them. But their self-centered, self-serving, and cocky leadership decided to move in ‘another direction’ this year.
In what can only be described as the height of unbridled arrogance, their leadership team refused to talk to or advertise with SFGN because their titular namesake, Chip McKenney is a petulant child who embarrasses and humiliates his ‘international organization.’
As you may have read in this past month’s earlier editions, SFGN did not sponsor, or partner with, this year’s Gay Polo Tournament. There are apparently rumors as to why. One letter to the editor suggested it was because of money; that they refused to advertise with us this year. Nonsense! SFGN does close to a million dollars a year in advertising. We can live without the polo league’s one thousand bucks — once a year.
What this newspaper cannot live with is when one of these community organizations purposely lies to fulfill a self-indulgent or dishonest purpose. When Mark Hansen of Pride South Florida last year denied that its organization had lost it tax-exempt status from the IRS, we simply exposed him by printing the truth, and a letter from the IRS revealing the facts.
As to gay polo the letter to the editor suggested they said they could not advertise with us because they couldn’t afford to do so and so we were somehow retaliating against them by printing another letter criticizing the tournament. That simply is not true. No, it was because their ego was too great. They have advertised in multiple venues this year, and selectively, even foolishly, ignored the paper which gave them stature and acclaim for the past few years — SFGN. It’s their money and they can do whatever they want with it. But they can’t lie to you and escape the truth from us.
Chip McKenney, the man in charge of the Phelps Media Group, the public relations firm duty-bound to market gay polo, wrote a letter to us in February stating that working with SFGN was dissatisfying last year. We are sorry, but a ‘public relations firm’ is supposed to work with the media, not antagonize, or abuse it.
Regardless of any disputes though between the SFGN sales department and the gay polo league, which may have existed, my executive editor Jason still moved forward with a planned preview of the tournament as he has done every year he’s worked here. I ordered that because news is news regardless of who advertises. A story is a story is a story.
This year, however, the children that run gay polo refused to even return our writer’s phone calls to set up an interview. Consequently, what could have been yet another cover story turned out to be a simple event preview with no quotes or color. What fools; what fabulous fools.
As clients of my law office have found when they see stories about their arrest on the pages of SFGN, this newspaper will not and does not shy away from publishing legitimate and newsworthy stories, no matter whom they are about. It just won’t happen here under my watch.
This year, we shared with Mr. McKenney a history of our past coverage. He responded that he was finished with SFGN. Specifically, this anal public relations expert wrote, “This [will] be the last communication between us.”
Really Chip? It’s almost shocking that a person, whose job it is to deal with the media, is telling an editor to not contact him again.
This year’s polo sponsors deserve some acclamation, which they did not get in SFGN, due to the negligence of the not so prudent Mr. McKenney.
So let me conclude this editorial by saluting Delta Vacations, Accurate Event Group, Weddings Illustrated, Palm Beach Illustrated, RBC Wealth Management, Palm Beach Orthopedic Institute, Wellington Preservation Coalition, Raymond Lee Jewelers, Mc Gladrey, J.P. Morgan, Gordon W. Ross Real Estate, and Discover The Palm Beaches. They all helped underwrite this growing event.
Let me also say to them I am personally sorry we could not have done more to acknowledge and appreciate your effort. You have Chip McKenney to thank for that.