May 25 (UPI) -- The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will sponsor The Gay Bowl in October, according to Boston's LGBT Flag Football group.
New England will be the first NFL franchise to sponsor the bowl. The Patriots have since confirmed the news with Outsports.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft joined LGBT Flag Football league representatives at an annual scholarship dinner this year in honor of LGBT high school athlete Chris Morse, Outsports reported.
The National Gay Flag Football League (NGFFL) is a 501(c)(3) sports organization that "seeks to promote the positive social and athletic enjoyment of American Flag Football," according to its official website. "Through our league, our events and most importantly our members, we also seek to foster and augment the self-respect of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and to promote respect and understanding from the larger community,"
The website states that individuals cannot be excluded "from participating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic ability, physical challenge, HIV status or gender identity."
There are more than 200 teams in 20 leagues in the United States in the NGFFL. Teams representing those leagues participate in the Gay Bowl annually during Columbus Day weekend.
The Gay Bowl was created in 2002 as the national championship tournament for LGBT flag football squads. About 40 North American teams compete in the Gay Bowl XVII tournament.
Boston also hosted the Gay Bowl III in 2003. The San Diego Bolts have won the Gay Bowl for five consecutive years.
This year's tournament will be at Progin Park in Lancaster, Mass. There will be three total divisions, including: Open A, Open B and Women's.
The LA Motion won the first Gay Bowl in 2002. Three teams participated in the inaugural Gay Super Bowl at Hollywood High School.