When artwork for one of our flags is set up on the printing machine, I rarely see it again or even remember it; but this job was different. Not only did it illustrate the creativity of the designer, through his use of colour and overlapping shapes, but the way all the elements text, logos had come together perfectly. To me this was the one of the most stunning pieces of artwork we had received for for some time. All I knew about the event was the Bingham Cup was taking place in Manchester England, in early June. My curiosity however revealed much more.
The story is not about the flags we made for the Bingham Cup Tournament, but the man, Mark Bingham, whose personality, enthusiasm and tragic death provided the impetus for a series of international sporting events
Born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1970, Mark was anything but the stereotypical gay man, athletic, built like a rugby player should be, shoulders as wide as he is tall. A former University of California, Berkeley star, he played for the gay-inclusive rugby union team – San Francisco Fog. In 2001 most of the Fog were novices to the game, but Mark showed up anyway. He coached, cajoled, and crashed through their practices, and played No. 8 in their first two friendly matches. In May 2001, as a member of the Fog, he took part in the Washington D.C. Renegades Invitational Tournament. It was after the tournament that Gotham’s Scott Glaessgen, who had been inspired by the tournament and who had been friends with Bingham since 1998, contacted him about forming a rugby team in New York City. Mark was excited about the possibility and over the summer the two men started planning the formation of a team, Gotham Knights.
On September 11, 2001, he boarded United Airlines Flight 93 at the last minute, on his way to San Francisco to be an usher in his fraternity brother Joseph Salama’s wedding. Mark died when the plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He was believed to be one of the passengers who tried to storm the cockpit to prevent al-Qaeda terrorists from taking over the plane. We all know the rest of that continuing tragedy…
As a gay man, Mark Bingham has been widely honored posthumously for having “smashed the gay stereotype mold and really opened the door to many others that came after him.”
The 2012 Bingham Cup will take place in Manchester, UK, between 1st and 3rd June 2012. The Bingham Cup is the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby teams and is one of the largest rugby union tournament in the sporting calendar outside of the IRB Rugby World Cup. Manchester 2012 will be the sixth Bingham Cup and is officially sponsored by the Rugby Football Union.
Manchester 2012 will be three days celebrating the very best of rugby. In 2002, gay and bisexual rugby union teams worldwide founded the International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB) as a body to promote rugby union as an all-inclusive non-discriminatory sport which everyone can play, regardless of sexuality.
An informal invitational tournament, held in May 2001, was formally inaugurated by IGRAB as a new international rugby union competition — a gay rugby union world cup — which in a unanimous decision by all the members of IGRAB became known as the Bingham Cup.
Much of the above copy is derived from Mark Bingham’s entry in Wikipedia, and from the 2012 Bingham Cup website. It is a story worthy of repetition.