WHEN a man plays gridiron – or American football – he is dressed for maximum protection to ensure safety in a game known for its raw physicality. His body is covered, with little exposed flesh, to minimise injury.
It’s not the kind of game a man would consider playing in his underwear. That would just be dumb, right?
But it seems rules are different if you are a woman playing for the Lingerie Football League (LFL).
The less clothing the better. In fact, it’s a requirement of the game.
The US LFL began as half-time entertainment for regular NFL games on Super Bowl Sunday. Now it masquerades as a serious event in its own right, complete with garters, suspender belts and skimpy underwear designed for maximum exposure.
Now the LFL is exporting its special brand of sporting sex-ploitation, with promotional matches in Brisbane and Sydney in June and July and an official launch in 2013.
And the whole family is invited! Brisbane Entertainment Centre and Allphones Arena Sydney are offering family tickets for two adults and two juniors aged two to 12 years. Never too early to teach children what women are good for.
Players have to sign contracts agreeing to “accidental nudity”. There’s nothing accidental about it: flesh exposure is virtually guaranteed. The contract states: ” … Performances hereunder may involve accidental nudity. Player knowingly and voluntarily agrees to provide player’s service … and has no objection to providing services involving player’s accidental nudity.”
If they wear any additional items of clothing under the lingerie they will be fined $500. Apart from All Star matches, they are not paid. And they are at serious risk of injury. In fact, the league brags about all the injuries suffered by female players.
It is a mix of voyeurism and violence.
League founder Mitch Mortaza proudly states the game is “brutality, sport and entertainment combined into one”.
For entertainment, read getting an eyeful of female flesh and hot and sweaty girl-on-girl action.
Mortaza admits “the only reason this league is getting so much attention (over other female ‘sports’) is because of the outfits”.
One male sports blogger says LFL is “the closest we will get to live stadium porno” and admitted: “I just would never go to a game to watch their athletic talent.”
Martin Winquist, writing at The Sheaf, says: “Both the lingerie and the padding (consisting of modified football shoulder pads, optional elbow pads, knee pads and hockey helmets with half-visors) are minimal enough to ensure none of them obscure the usually ample cleavage of the athlete. If you’re an ass and legs person though, don’t fret; the booty shorts and required garter make sure the girls’ (breasts) don’t monopolise one’s ogling.”
The LFL doesn’t seem to think women are talented enough to play sport fully clothed.
Tampa Breeze Florida player Liz Gorman told CBC Radio earlier this year what it is like to wear uniforms designed for maximum flesh exposure:
“Oh. Well … well, honestly … I don’t like it. I’d rather wear full clothing. Because when you fall, it literally rips your skin. I’d love more clothing, but at the same time like any sport, the players don’t get to choose the uniform.”
But some fans want even more: “Nude football would be better – make it happen bastards,” wrote one.
And another: “The LFL sucks now. It used to be the girls wore ‘Booty Shorts’, meaning they, ya know, SHOWED BOOTY. It seems that they made the bottoms way more conservative. Just saw the LFL Bowl and there was virtually no ass-cheek showing.”
This exploitation of women’s bodies for profit undermines real sportswomen. Mainstreaming stripper-style representations of women – including in sport – sets back the cause of equality and fair treatment.
CONTINUING to depict women in sexualised roles – including on the sports field – dashes our hopes of growing a generation of empowered young women. It reinforces the notion that if a young woman wants to play sport she has to bare her flesh and be publicly sexual. Already many girls avoid playing sport because of body-image concerns.
The Australian Government Ausport website acknowledges this: “While sexploitation is most commonly associated with elite athletes, the matter cannot be completely divorced from community and amateur sport. There is undoubtedly a flow-on effect.”
It sends conflicting and confusing messages to the community and to other athletes. It also undermines the efforts to achieve equal credibility for all women athletes.
Fortunately, the Australian Sports Commission does not recognise lingerie football. It says the LFL does not adhere to the “core principles of sport in Australia – fairness, respect, responsibility and safety”.
However, it can’t do anything to stop it.
That’s why we have to. There’s a campaign against corporate sponsors including the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Allphones Stadium Sydney, Telecafe, Seven Yahoo, Yahoo Sports and Triple M.
Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy is also being lobbied to intervene. Tell these companies that trading in the bodies of underpaid semi-naked women who risk injury for male entertainment does not constitute sport.