The Lingerie Football League: Professional Sport or Professional Porn?

If you were hoping for a post full of sunshine and rainbows today – unfortunately you’re not going to get it.

I have just picked my jaw up off the ground after watching one of the major morning TV shows promote the Lingerie Football League throughout the morning and to be honest, along with many women and men in the twitterverse, I’m not happy about it.

Lingerie Football League

Lingerie Football League Website’s Homepage – the marketing message is obvious

For those who missed the hype just under a week ago, The Lingerie Football League (LFL) is a women’s 7-on-7 tackle adaptation of the American Football League (Gridiron Football).  They describe their players as athletic andbeautiful’. The reason the league is here is to scout for women for an Australian based team – they are holding try outs in Brisbane tonight – as well as a couple of exhibition matches in June.

Lingerie Football League

Getty Images

The promotion during the morning show showed the girls in tracksuits up until the last cross where they stripped down (pardon the pun) to what I am assuming was a training uniform. I will admit what they were wearing during the cross didn’t look much like lingerie per se – more like extremely skimpy sports-wear.  In fact, our beach volley-ball girls’ outfits do come to mind as a good comparison (I still can’t work out why they have to wear such limited Lycra, when the men seem to cope just fine in normal shorts and singlets? See below). However after doing a bit of research this morning on the league, it’s clear that for game day the girls are in garters, bras, and panties – with ribbon & lace ‘details’.

Womens Beach Volleyball uniforms

Women’s Beach Volleyball

Mens Beach Volleyball

Men’s Beach Volleyball

Kate Lundy, Federal Minister for sport, described the league as “cheap and degrading“. Further, she said “It’s called the Lingerie Football League because it’s almost exclusively about the underwear.”

And I am going to make an assumption that the lace and bows aren’t ‘performance enhancing’ features. That is, they are for visual appeal only.

Lingerie Football Leage - image

Whether you think it’s ok to play sport in lingerie or not – there is a bigger problem at hand with the LFL’s approach. This kind of spectacle is doing massive damage to the hard work being done to encourage and promote women’s participation in sport. It would be an enormous kick in the guts to the people (who would be banging their heads against a wall most days as it is) that are dedicated to the message that girls can attain the same health benefits, enjoyment and success in sport as boys. And are entitled to such.

You couldn’t possibly let your daughter watch a game of the LFL. The message you would be sending would be destructive to their self-worth, their perceived place in the world, and their acuity of what it means to be a successful female athlete.

Lingerie Football LeagueThere is no question that the LFL players are not only incredibly fit, strong and skilled footballers – they are absolutely putting their bodies on the line during these games from the video I’ve seen, which certainly makes for a watchable game. They are serious about this competition, and this is reflected by the key messages the league makes in various interviews describing the women as professional athletes in a professional league.

But I’m sorry – it’s called the Lingerie Football League. It’s ludicrous to suggest the league  be accepted as professional when they require players to get their kit off. If they were truly interested in promoting women’s sport and generating a professional league, they wouldn’t be wearing lace and garters. They wouldn’t have the girls in photo-shoots’ to make them look like porn stars (cue fan machine). They wouldn’t have the girls in make up & fake tan, with enhancements of certain body-parts. They wouldn’t have the girls feature in Play Boy magazine. Their approach is that of a sexualised money-making machine, targeted towards a male audience, and it’s really unfortunate to think that these girls believe what they are doing is credible in terms of professional sport.

Lingerie Football League

via LFL.com

It’s not doing anything for anyone except men who enjoy half-naked women tackle each other, and the promoter’s pockets which are being lined with serious cash.

I’m all for doing what it takes to effectively promote women’s sport – but why can’t it be about the sport and not the body? Would we not pay to watch these same women, minus the make up and the lace, play a game of football if they were in ‘everyday’ sports gear?

At a time so special as the lead up to the London Olympics, the media should be using this time to help us encourage our daughters get into sport – not support the sexualisation of it.

As much as it frustrates me, it unfortunately it doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon – Lingerie Basketball anyone?

Ok. Dismounting my high-horse now.  Feel free to take over by leaving your thoughts below!

~ anna

P.S By the way, if I haven’t changed your mind, if you think it’s all harmless real sport – you should know the league is based in Hollywood. What does that tell you?!!

6 thoughts on “The Lingerie Football League: Professional Sport or Professional Porn?

  1. Thank you so much for writing about this, http://www.collectiveshout.org have a petition up to stop the lingerie football league from coming to Australia, of course we can’t stop the two promotional matches the first of which is this Saturday, but we can stop them from forming teams here next year. Please sign the petition and tell everyone you know of the petition. As the government wont step in and even though the Sports Minister is strongly against it, she cant do anything either, so it is up to us, the people of Australia to stop it.
    please also tell the people on twitter who you have been discussing this with about the petition, as I am not on twitter
    For more information go to http://www.collectiveshout.org, http://www.melindatankardreist.com and http://www.mamamia.com.au and my blog has heaps of info too http://www.freedomfrompornculture.wordpress.com

    Thanks again for speaking up on this, we can stop it, many cities in American did, we can too.
    Lily

  2. Pingback: What did you miss in 2012? | the sorella-hood

  3. It’s all the more appalling when we have the issue of sexual assaults by male football players. At a time when the leagues are supposedly doing so much to educate their players about respect for women, surely it is counter productive and damaging to be introducing such a blatant spectacle of sexism. Can we really be surprised when another footballer is arrested on sexual assault charges?!?!

    • Hey Alice – thanks so much for your thoughts.
      I don’t know about male footy players, but I think males in general is for sure a concern. It’s been a horrible couple of years in Australia for physical violence against women and I feel it’s not getting any better even with amazing groups like the White Ribbon Foundation. I fear it’s never going to change, especially when alcohol is a contributing fuel (which I am sure there will be a lot of at these games next week).
      Thanks for stopping by! x

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