Season 13 American Idol contestant Keith London is passionate about two things – music and kickball.
The former Hazelton, PA resident moved to California years ago to follow his singing career. In 2014, he tried out for American Idol and made it into the top 50, but was eliminated in the group round episode during Hollywood week.
Still, London made history during his time on Idol as the first openly gay contestant and set Twitter on fire after his performance of “If I Were a Boy,” which left the judges feeling confused by his song choice, but his LGBTQ fans supportive of his bravery.
While London still performs from time to time, his newest passion is no longer in the studio, but rather on the field – the kickball field.
While pursuing his music career in California, London was introduced to the game of kickball. “I played in a kickball league, but I really didn’t like it. I liked the sport, but hated how it was being run.”
London had also played in a gay softball league and loved how organized it was. “So I decided to create my own kickball league, designed after the LGBT softball league structure.”
Knowing he’d have better luck outside of California, London moved to Austin, Texas to open America’s Finest Kickball League, LLC. The league kicked off their first season on June 24, 2017 and now has over 659 members nationwide.
“I’m blowing this thing up,” says London of his endeavor. “Kickball is now becoming a thing. We’re in 8 cities within 2 months, including Austin, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, Denver, Boston, Tampa, and soon-to-be Ft. Lauderdale.”
London says that kickball offers an engaging atmosphere outside of the bar scene. “There’s always so much pressure at a bar. Kickball is just fun. It provides a common interest, which makes meeting people easier.”
The league is very welcoming to people of all skill levels, even those who have never played a sport.
Anyone between the ages of 20 and 80 can play.
While the membership fees vary from city to city, most fees range between $70-75. Tampa’s membership fee is $75.
The fee covers the cost of a uniform, game umpires, two games per week, 14-16 games over eight weeks, and player insurance.
London emphasized, “We are organized because I want to give people the most legit experience possible.”
London has invested his own money in the company and hopes to partner with corporate sponsors to take the league to the next level and to help cover his out-of-pocket expenses. “I have not made a penny personally for this. Sometimes I sing here and there to put money back into kickball.”
At this point, London is paid simply through gratitude. “People come up to me once the season is going to tell me that they are so happy that I’ve provided this for them.”
When asked how he decides which cities to expand into, London says, “I look at which cities don’t have a lot of gay sports and I bring it to those cities.” Individuals from throughout the country, many of whom are social media fans, have reached out to London asking him to bring a league to their hometown.
“Right now, I’m doing a really good job with how it’s going. Some of the Gay Bars around the country are sponsoring a team. We have committees in the cities.”
Several of the teams are based in Texas where LGBT community members, particularly transgender community members, face discrimination on a daily basis. London notes, “So far, we have had 100% positive support. The feedback has been incredible.”
London points out that the company is currently experiencing a slight glitch with the gender identity options in their third-party registration system. “Unfortunately, the system we use to sign up players is the best out there, but the registration options haven’t progressed with the community. We are trying to work through this.”
In the meantime, London encourages all to participate and register. “All community members are welcomed and will be referred to as their preferred gender identity, even if that gender doesn’t fit the gender-conforming norms listed in our registration system.” All league uniforms are also unisex.
The Tampa area pickup game is on September 23rd at 11:00 AM at Gadsden Park (6901 South MacDill Ave Tampa, FL). This free pickup game provides an opportunity for interested parties to play, learn about the league, and decide if they want to become a member.
“This is a ‘come and try it out for free to see if you like it’ opportunity. If you like it, you can sign up,” says London
Tampa’s official season kicks off on October 14th, while northern and western state leagues are on a different schedule due to seasonal differences.
To learn more, click visit www.gaykickball.com and click on Tampa to register.
London is currently seeking corporate sponsors. To contact London about sponsorship opportunities, please email email@example.com.