Scattered around the gym are little comfortable havens. Places where the gay versions of “The Ugly Parent” sit.

Not to be outdone by their hetero role models, these partners, children or still-here-after-last-night don’t provide sporting commentary. Rather they discuss the more pressing issues relating to the people on the court.

Organisers and referees cop flak, as do those who take themselves and their sport just a little too seriously.

Introductions are made around the most comfortable areas, where several people gather. Those with lots of pink dollars check everything from smartphones to iPads, ebooks and laptops. While cruising social sites, they allow themselves to be distracted by the game. Occasionally.

Recently commenced relationships are easy to spot. As beads of dribble ooze from their mouths, their eyes remain fixed on one game only. One person only. Their chests rise and fall, punctuated by sharp intakes of breath and sighs as games progress.

Breaks in play are spent not around a coach, team or captain. The player being watched rushes to the side for a ‘moment’ with the friend who has come along to see what this part of life is all about.

Active sideline minds provide great insight into a game. Did you know that an unbecoming haircut, poor choice of matching shoes or a singlet that lacks an appropriate brand are automatic disqualification for winning on any given day? They certainly aid the viewers in tracking the object of their desire!

Taking time out with the sideliners is great fun too. They are often amazing people, their stories incredible, and their passionate support of partners or team members is sensational. It is easy to ignore them, forget the part they play, yet the coach or team captain who knows more about the players around them is more likely to be involved in a winning team.

Today’s column is dedicated to the partners who support players across this country. Without you, many athletes would not be playing their sport, feeling it was taking away from their relationship rather than an essential part of it.

Build a stronger relationship — support your partner’s sporting efforts at one of the member clubs. Find them online:

QSAM; www.queersportsmelbourne.org TEAM SYDNEY; www.teamsydney.org.au

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