On a sixth-grade bus ride home from school, I announced I’d be trying out for the middle school football team. And why not? I’d been playing backyard football for years, had even requested—and received—a football for my eleventh birthday. The other option for fall sports, volleyball, seemed entirely uninteresting by comparison; and in small town Kansas, football was king.
Everyone around me laughed. “You idiot,” one guy said. “Football isn’t for girls.”
Well, look who’s laughing now, sixth grade tormenters. Because, apparently, football is for girls after all: at least if those girls are buxom young women with sexy bods who look hott (yes, with two “T’s) in lingerie.
Here’s the news: by some accounts, the most successful women’s sports league in the United States right now isn’t its professional soccer or basketball leagues, but the LFL: that is, the Lingerie Football League.
I was clued in to this league by a colleague who probably wishes to remain anonymous, but who swears he does not spend his weekends watching LFL games. He only read about he league here, in an excellent article by Rick Palaus.
The LFL has franchise teams in a number of cities nationwide, with new ones slated to join the league in Omaha and Atlanta. (Omaha? Really? I guess those Cornhuskers love their football.) The league’s hope is to one day have lingerie clad women playing football around the world.
Says its founder, Michael Mortaza, “The ultimate goal is to be playing across the world,” he said, “and to make a serious case to turn this into, believe it not, an Olympic sport.” No word on whether the teams in Europe and South America will be playing American football or soccer, though maybe lingerie soccer isn’t nearly as sexy as football. I just don’t know . . .
So what happens in the LFL?
Well, duh. Women play a real football game, wearing lingerie. They also wear helmets, cleats, and shoulder pads, though the shoulder pads are cut Just. So. Why have on big, clunky shoulder pads when you could have ones that allow your hard-fought-for (or paid for) cleavage to show? Nothin’ says athletic like big boobs peaking out beneath some shimmery shoulder pads.
And why wear protection on your thighs and hips, like men do? I mean, I know women have bigger hips and thighs, and so probably don’t need as much protection as men. So why not wear a bikini bottom—and heck, for good measure, a garter, too? I know every time I watch football, I think “what those men need is a garter belt!”
When the league first started, in 2009, the coaches just threw any ole beautiful woman on the field, because they thought folks wanted to look at the lingerie and taut bods, rather than a football game. Except fans apparently wanted their girls to be good at football, too. Now, women in the league have to be hott, but also athletic. In other words, they have to be able to play like a professional football linebacker, but not necessarily look like one. A 300-pould woman will probably have thick thighs, and that garter belt will no look right.
The players love being in the league, and see little difference between what they do and what beach volleyball players, also wearing bikinis, do. And they have a point—albeit a sexist, depressing one.
I’ve written elsewhereabout what I see as the sexplotation of women’s sports: the ways most women athletes can only be successful if they have “the look.” Women who are strong athletes, but lack a sexy body, a beautiful smile, or cleavage that’s the bomb will not have their accomplishments valued. Because, of course, sexy is everything, even for gold medal weightlifters.
On occasion, I hear that we live in an era when genders are treated equally, and that feminism is no longer relevant. Well, here’s reason #5,435 that gender inequity is alive and well, even here, in enlightened America: so long as millions of fans fill football, baseball, and basketball stadiums to watch men play sports in regular uniforms, but don’t give women’s athletes the time of day—unless they have hot bodies, sexy outfits, and garter belts—we remain a sexist society.
Because women playing football, or any sport, is not idiotic, but watching them play only if they wear lingerie certainly is.