Just the name "Lingerie Football League" is catchy, isn't it? Even if the only word most people hear is ???lingerie,' I still got your attention. Well, I guess that's the idea. Ingenious marketing I call it. Who knew it would get such widely mixed reactions?
Season 2 is barely upon us, more expansion teams have been formed, and already the critics and skeptics have started their rants. One Maryland-based newspaper critic calls the League, "... A crass exploitation of women for the amusement of men." Hmmm ... exploitation? Well, we're not strippers or porn stars (nothing against either/or ... you go girls, it's just not for me) and we aren't exactly playing powder-puff football. But some of the reactions the league, as well as some of us individual players, have gotten hasn't been all too supportive lately.
No one said being a professional athlete was going to be easy. It's a combination of sacrifice, dedication, harder-than-hard work, perseverance and pure, raw love of the game. Now, add all of that to being a female in a predominantly male industry, and minus clothing, (our contract actually has an "accidental nudity" clause)and you get, yeah, I know, I set myself up for this one. I guess we, as players, should know what we're getting ourselves into from the moment we sign that contract and step foot into the training facility. It still doesn't make it any easier. Explaining to you're boyfriends' parents, "Oh yeah, I play full-contact football in my underware for a living," doesn't always go over too well. That is, if you even have a boyfriend.
That's another thing. Not too many guys are keen on the idea of having their girlfriend/wife/fianc??/booty-call or whatever out there on the turf with a wedgie. It's totally understandable to some extent, but why is it acceptable for male pro athletes to do what they do, make a zillion dollars, cheat, lie, steal, play women like a deck of cards, dabble in illegal drugs and other off-color activities and I still don't see a shortage of women or supporters following them.
Even with the various indiscretions that some pro athletes have seen recently *cough ... Tiger Woods ... cough* it hasn't exactly effected their fan base to a huge extent. Okay, I'm not trying to sound like, "I am woman, hear me roar," but this is a piece entitled "Confessions..." so bare with me.
Football has always been the league's main focus. The lingerie part attracts the majority of the fans, yes, but the game is what most of us are here for (I say "most" because I can't speak for each and every girl across the country that plays in the LFL). I know myself, as well as my teammates, are here to play some serious football because we genuinely love the game. The league takes the football aspect very seriously. Anyone who has been to a game, or seen the game highlights, will tell you how serious it is. As far as the league is concerned, if you can't "play smart," or pay attention, you're out. Simple as that.
At tryouts, they often emphasize not only are they looking at an individual's physical athletic ability, but at their mental competence as well. So why does appearance come into consideration with the Lingerie Football League? Well, because we play in our underware! (Duh). There is still a marketing aspect here, and we know this. Why is it 2010, and yet people still find it shocking that a bunch of girls want to kick butt in what really is simply a bathing suit? Exploitaion? Nah. Hardly. Revolution? Maybe. We ARE the first all-womens' full-contact professional football league in history. Take that baby-boomers!
So why aren't more people supportive? Maybe it makes people uncomfortable because it's new. Maybe it's just some of the reactions in certain regions. Maybe it's just my personal experiences. I guess that's something we (or I) have to accept and deal with as the original group of ladies in this league. I think I would be proud if I had a daughter and she was enthusiastic about sports, and not what Britney Spears was wearing (or not wearing) in her new video. The Lingerie Football League promotes a healthy lifestyle, dedication to something bigger, and it's a fact that involvement in athletics builds self-esteem. So why shun it? Why not take it as seriously as we do?
Oh, and we get paid, too
On another note, mini-camp was just this past weekend for one of the league's newest expansion teams, the Baltimore Charm, which is the team I am currently committed to since there will not be a New York team for 2010/11. We got our butts HANDED to us boot camp style. We have great coaching staff, amazing trainers, and such a talented group of girls.We're so sore now that we still can't walk up or down stairs, nor can we sit comfortably, but we loved every minute of it.
It's very hard to get a group of girls together and have them support one another, let alone even get along. And what I witnessed this past weekend was the development of a family. Anyone who has played on a team at any level knows how important chemistry is. So, going back to the comment that the league is simply, "... A crass exploitation of women for the amusement of men," I personally don't see anything "crass" in an opportunity to be a part of something bigger, and to have the experience of doing something we, as a team, love.
As women, we should be supporting one another more and be proud of each other's accomplishments, instead of being so negative and "catty" to one another. So, if playing football in a bathing suit as a team unites us, then heck, what's so "crass" about that!?
One thing I want to add is that for as many people that are skeptics of the league and what we do, there are just as many, if not more, supporters. The guys that I'm friends with that play professional sports have been super supportive, and they have no idea how much that support means to us. It's awesome to know that we have them rooting for us and keeping up with our stats and schedule. I think that there's a mutual understanding and empathy there for what we go through, and we appreciate that.
And as for the fans, wow! You guys are the blood that makes our hearts beat! Thank you. We try our hardest to answer all of your emails and "tweets," and it's hard, so please don't get angry with us if we can't keep up. Most of us also have three, four, even five other jobs besides football, but we love interacting with fans, answering questions and signing autographs. It's new to a lot of us, and a bit crazy, but we are grateful for all of you! So keep ???em coming!
----Kiera Massette is obviously passionate about the LFL, but she also has a lot to say about many other things, both sports and non-sports related. Please follow her on Twitter @KieraMassette