Delhi residents push back against proposed changes to Skirt Game

Since 1992, game officials say they’ve raised more than $1 million.
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 10:27 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - A proposed change to a decades-long tradition in a Cincinnati suburb that involves men dressing up like female celebrities to play a softball game for charity is receiving backlash. Those wanting to change the theme of the game say it is offensive and mocks transgender individuals but others say the theme is a big part of their tradition and are fighting the change.

In Delhi Township, the Skirt Game has been a popular event since 1978.

After receiving complaints from some community members that having men wear dresses and wigs for the game is offensive and insensitive, township officials floated the idea that the theme should be changed.

The suggestion has been met with swift anger. On Wednesday night, Delhi residents attended the board of trustees meeting to let officials know they want to keep the theme of the game.

Some brought signs to the meeting reading, “say yes to the dress.”

There were a lot of heated exchanges between trustee members and residents at Wednesday’s tense meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, the three trustees — Michael Davis, Cheryl Sieve, Rose Stertz —tried to assure residents they weren’t forcing any changes to the game but merely making a suggestion.

The trustees said the Delhi Skirt Game has been losing sponsors and attendance has been steadily dropping for the past five years. The goal, the trustees said, was to open up dialogue about changing the theme to ensure it is fun, family-friendly and appropriate.

Stertz and Sieve also shared they’ve received feedback from residents that allowing men to dress up in skirts and wigs for the game is hurtful to transgender individuals.

When residents at the meeting repeatedly stated that no one was offended by the Skirt Game, Stertz held up a stack of letters.

She explained they were letters from those who felt hurt by the game’s theme but were too afraid to come to the meeting or speak out publicly.

From left, Margo Burger, and JEssica Almasri hold signs supporting the Delhi Skirt Game during...
From left, Margo Burger, and JEssica Almasri hold signs supporting the Delhi Skirt Game during a Delhi Township Trustees meeting, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at the Glen Carder Lodge in Delhi.(Albert Cesare/The Enquirer)

The first speaker was Kelly Conley, chairman of the Skirt Game. He told the trustees no one asked for their suggestions, and the room erupted in applause.

Each year, Delhi Township authorizes a contract with the Skirt Game Committee that allows Delhi Park to be the venue.

“If the players do not comply with your suggestion about not dressing up as women, will you hold the Delhi Park park from us?” Conley asked the trustees.

What followed was a tense exchange between Conley and the trustees.

At one point, Conley asked the trustees who made them the moral police.

Sieve responded by saying the mission of the Skirt Game can continue without men wearing dresses. Sieve was then asked why he is against changing the theme if he knows people are hurt?

After some back and forth, the trustees said the decision to change the theme will fall to the Skirt Game Committee, and they won’t force a decision on anyone.

Several speakers expressed anger that a tradition they cherish may not continue.

Many shared the sentiment that “if you don’t like the game’s theme, don’t go.”

Other residents in attendance pushed back on the notion that the game mocks trans people.

“That’s not what this is about at all,” said Carl Idler, who dresses up like Lady Gaga for the games.

He explained that he’s participated for the past ten years, and handing out the money raised for families during the game has changed him into a better man.

“You need to let us do what we need to do and wear those dresses proud,” Idler said.

After more speakers directed their anger to the trustee members, the trustees explained they’re not forcing anyone to change.

“We’ve been bombarded with emails from everybody and we’re just laying it out so the Skirt Game Committee can play it out. We’re not against you. And if guys want to wear the skirts, rock on. Do what you got to do. We’re not going to be stopping that,” Davis said.

Sieve said the trustees support the Skirt Game and only want to offer suggestions and address the concerns of all residents.

“I represent all residents. Straight, gay, trans. All the residents. To me, to be aware of how some feel and not share it with this committee? Well, that’s not who I am. I’m going to represent all of you,” Sieve said.

For the 2022 event, township officials said they have not started contract negotiations yet. The Delhi Skirt Game Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday.

The Delhi Skirt Game began in 1978. It was a beer league softball game where the loser dressed up in women’s clothes to raise money for a young child hurt in a bicycle accident. The first game raised $2,500.

Since 1992, game officials say they’ve raised more than $1 million.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please include the title when you click here to report it.

Copyright 2022 Enquirer. All rights reserved.