After months of heated debate, the annual game in Delhi, where men dress up as celebrities and play a game to raise money for charity, will go ahead as planned.
On Friday at Delhi Park, the men’s softball players will stick with this year’s theme and dress up as nurses and first responders to play in the 45th annual Delhi Skirt Game.
The Delhi Skirt Game began in 1978 as a league softball game where the loser dressed in women’s clothing to raise money for a young child who had been injured in a bicycle accident. That first game raised $2,500.
Sherri DeMoss, a member of the Skirt Game Committee’s board of directors, said that over the years, Delhi Skirt Game events have raised more than $1 million, helping local families with special needs. “We have a lot of families in Delhi that we’ve helped that would be homeless if it weren’t for the game,” DeMoss said. “We do this to help our neighbors. All money raised goes back to the community.”
Community Debate: Is Skirt Game Offensive?
As plans for the 2022 Delhi Skirt Game are drawn up, a resident has told a committee and members of the Delhi City Council of Trustees that as transgender people, they find the game harmful and offensive. Each year the Town of Delhi contracts with the Skirt Game Committee to allow Delhi Park to be the venue. Some questioned why the trustees allowed the Skirt Game to use the park for an “offensive” event.
Some residents began speaking to the trustees and the committee asking that softball not feature male players dressed as women. The proposed changes were quickly met with anger from other Delhiites, leading to months of tense meetings and letters and emails to officials.
Some residents wanted to change the subject because they thought it was sexist and not family friendly. The authors offered ideas on how the game could maintain its fundraising mission without men dressing up as women.
Trustees received letters opposing the skirt game and letters opposing changing the theme of the game.
Demoss said she was not surprised that many people in Delhi insisted on keeping the theme of the game.
“I live in Delhi. I know it’s a big deal for people, especially those who have a legacy of where their grandfather or father played,” Demos said. She said the overwhelming response from the community to preserve the game’s tradition of players dressing as women is why the committee did not make the change. She said the committee took the time to get feedback from residents because they wanted everyone’s voice to be heard.
“I think if there’s one person who feels offended, we should give people a chance to speak up and give us their opinions and feedback,” DeMoss said. “The community was very supportive of men dressing. There is nothing wrong with that.”
DeMoss said this year they have more companies sponsoring the event and slightly more volunteers than in previous years. She believes that the discussion surrounding the game has spread the word about her charitable mission.
The game will continue. There will be debates as well.
She said she wouldn’t be surprised if there were discussions about playing in skirts in the future. Her main hope is that the game stays around for years to come and continues to raise money for her community.
“There are always ways to improve. The more volunteers or young people are involved, they will have new ideas,” said DeMoss. “The whole purpose is to raise money to give back to people in need in our area. As long as we’re doing it, I think it could go on forever.”
The 45th annual Delhi Skirt Game will begin at 6:00 pm on Friday, August 12 at Delhi Park, 5125 Foley Road, followed by fireworks at 9:00 pm.