More than 200 people are expected to attend D.C.'s first gay basketball tournament, the D.C. Capital Classic, a National Gay Basketball Association-sanctioned event, Oct. 25-26, at Trinity College in the Brookland area.
One off-court highlight not requiring any interest in basketball will be Saturday, Oct. 25, when players will be encouraged to strip down to their undies at Cobalt, 1639 R St. NW, for the ''Best Baller-Body'' contest.
''It's for players and guests,'' says Tim Francis, co-chair and president of the D.C. Sentinels, who are sponsoring the tourney. People can sign up for the Cobalt event during tournament registration on Friday, Oct. 24, making them eligible for a $100 drawing.
''People can come out in their underwear and show off their bodies.''
That's one of several events organizers of the tournament have planned around the games to offer variety to out-of-towners coming to the nation's capital.
Francis says organizers decided to keep the tournament ''small,'' limiting it to 16 teams, in order to be able to hold it in the city.
''Because a lot of people who are coming have not been to D.C. before, we have a lot of activities around the tournament. We were able to get a White House Tour for our sister city, San Francisco, and a Capitol tour as well.''
The Sentinels have been in existence since the 1980s, but Francis says the group recently re-formed last year, after a long hiatus.
''We re-started this organization about a year ago and it grew really fast. We have more than a 100 people on our list now.''
Since reforming, the Sentinels have certainly been busy, having competed in Amsterdam, Chicago, Memphis and Los Angeles.
When the Sentinels competed in Chicago in April, during the Windy City Athletic Association (WCAA) tournament, more than 30 other teams joined them. Francis says he is hoping to eventually make D.C. the site of a national gay tournament.
''It helps D.C.'s future to have a basketball organization, because a lot of cities around the country have basketball tournaments. A lot of times they fade away. What I'm trying to do is have a national tournament here every year. I'm trying to get D.C., the capital, to become the place where people come and compete for the No. 1 championship.''
Joining the Sentinels for the D.C. Capital Classic will be the Atlanta Trojans, Chicago Sirens, LA Rebels, SF Rockdogs, Dallas Drifters and Memphis Express, among others, in two divisions.
Despite the competition, Francis says in the end it's all about having fun.
''For me, our mission statement says it all. We're here to engage people and have fun. To have a place where people can play basketball and meet new friends.''
For more information about the D.C. Capital Classic basketball tournament, visit www.teamdcbasketball.org/CapitalClassic.