In a milestone move, the NFL’s New England Patriots are set to become the first major-league team to officially sponsor the annual Gay Bowl flag-football tournament.

By Nathan James

The Patriots announced their support for the event at Saturday’s Spring Awards Banquet, alongside Boston’s gay team. Robert Kraft, who owns the Patriots, says his club has been interested in the National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) for some time. “Supporting them is just the right thing to do,” he said, noting that he attended a dinner in April honoring out high school athlete Chris Morse.

Robert Kraft

The Gay Bowl, which will be held in Boston this fall, follows the Patriots’ backing of LGBTQ rights. During the contentious Obergefell v. Hodges court battle over marriage equality, the Patriots signed an amicus brief on behalf of same-sex marriage, and have pledged to uphold the NFL’s Respect At Work program.

The NFL embraces inclusiveness,” said Brian McCarthy, a league official. “We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events, and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”

Danny Tyrell and Dave Hamilton, Gay Bowl co-chairs, welcomed the Patriots’ backing for the tournament. “We are thrilled to have them join us for this exciting, affirming evening,” they said in a statement. “We’re proud to be part of the greater sports community.