DELHI TWP., Ohio — Delhi Township has asked the Delhi Skirt Game committee to "evolve the thematic elements of the event" in which male softball players have, for years, played a charity game dressed as women to raise money for west side families.
The game is a more than 40-year-old tradition that operates as a fundraiser to raise money for families who need support on Cincinnati's west side.
"What has long been considered a fun component of the evening has been igniting discussions from residents, event sponsors and other supporters for years for being offensive and insensitive," reads an open letter to the Delhi community from the township.
Lawrence Breadon said the Skirt Game has been a family tradition for as long as he can remember; when he was a teenager, his dad began playing in the game.
"The preparation, dressing dad up in costumes, it was an all around good time," he said. "Coming up with ideas, because they had themes, like movie stars."
Since 1978, more than $1 million has been raised through the event for families in need. The Braeden family was one of them.
"I joined the military, went to Iraq and was overseas," said Braeden. "Dad got sick and they fell on hard times and the Skirt Games really helped them out."
The township has asked the committee to find a way to continue holding the charity event, while evolving the theme of the game. In the open letter, the township did not provide any recommendations for what evolutions they would like to see occur, nor did they highlight what complaints had been made about the event.
Braeden said he doesn't think the games are intended to mock anyone, but rather to provide a fun time-honored tradition.
"The excitement and generosity of the Delhi Skirt Game Committee is palpable," reads the open letter. "To say it's all for naught, if men playing in this softball game can't dress as women for the evening, is completely devaluing the fundraising endeavor and all it stands for."
Daniel Brown, a Delhi resident who regularly attends the Skirt Game, said he sees both sides of the situation.
"In the end, everyone needs to realize the purpose of the event, and that's to raise money for families in need," said Brown. "And if we can make slight changes to the event to bring more business together an to bring in more people from the community to feel more comfortable."
He said making slight changes to the event that would accommodate everyone shouldn't be difficult.
"You can definitely still have a costume game and be respectful and making some changes and being clear with the public," he said.
A decision on whether to adapt the games — or how that would be done — hasn't been made yet. Committee members met Thursday and decided the event will happen as scheduled, but they haven't announced whether they will officially revise the dress code.