Lingerie Football Not in Violation of Women’s Rights

James Ryan

As an athlete, it can’t be easy being affiliated with a sport that so many others seem to either hold in contempt or don’t take seriously in the first place because it combines a popular and socially acceptable profession such as [fitness] modelling, with America’s favourite contact sport—football.

Modelling is fine.

Rarely do you ever hear people complaining that it undermines women’s rights. In fact, many women, especially those who actually model for a living, would argue that it easily empowers women in today’s society. Throw a brain in the mix and suddenly you have a super woman on your hands.

Football is fine.

Minus the inherent dangers that go along with any contact sport, professional football is arguably the greatest and toughest sport on earth. Unfortunately for the fans however, the entire season only gets played for three months of the year, which then leaves a rather large gap throughout the remaining nine months.

So again, modelling is fine and football is awesome, but the combination of the two is for some unknown reason considered blasphemous and morally apprehensible to a lot of people.

Get over yourself.

This basically reminds me of another popular and essentially very new sport—mixed martial arts. It’s okay to be a boxer. It’s okay to compete in karate, muay thai and even jiu-jitsu tournaments, but the State of New York for example, sees the full combination of these fighting elements as downright wrong and barbaric. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the critics are only grasping at straws to either compensate for their own personal insecurities, or to mask the fact that they know very little about the sport in the first place.

Wait…am I talking about women’s lingerie football or mixed martial arts?

Flip a coin.

Check out this quote that I pulled off of a Facebook page entitled: Canadians Against the Lingerie Football League, which boasts a whopping 127 members. And don’t worry—I cleaned up the punctuation and spelling errors (trust me, there were a lot of them) to make it a LOT easier to read. You’re welcome.

“Sex sells. We all know that, but women have been fighting for over 50 years in Canada to ensure equal rights, and now they decide to bring in a Lingerie Football League in support of more ‘entertainment’ and larger profits for businesses? How does that reconcile our life? We’re not sex objects and we play these sports for a reason. Yes, reasons differ, but if we start supporting Lingerie Football, what is that really promoting? You can only be beautiful and powerful and recognized if you are stick thin with a double-E bra size and are willing to run around naked?

“We’ve made it so far in the dominating areas of society, and right now, if feels like we’re going backwards. Everyone has come to realize that sporting outfits are getting tighter and skimpier every year, but tackle football is a male dominated sport which is finally being opened up to women. We don’t need to have the rules changed for us. We don’t need the stereotypes or criticism. We don’t need to kill our bodies just to be accepted. What this Lingerie Football League is initially doing is making women feel insignificant if they don’t fit that criteria. Football players come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. We’re promoted through our skills and passion of the sport—not body type. You would never see Eli Manning or Korey Stringer ever playing football in their boxers, so why is this any different?”—Shelby Merrithew

Shelby brings up a very good point… Maybe the men should be playing in their boxer shorts?

Look, I won’t nitpick this person’s comment too much because like anyone (myself included), she is fully entitled to her opinions and no one is in the wrong for feeling a certain way. In fact, I even downright agree with her on a few of her points.

But here are some that I don’t:

Lingerie football does not infringe on women’s rights. These women are not being forced to play football or wear bathing suit-sized outfits against their will. In fact, they are being compensated for doing something that they truly love—playing football, modelling their very fit bodies, and entertaining the fans. As well, the players are not being exploited. If anyone is being exploited through Lingerie Football, it’s the fans who are buying the tickets, which from what I have been told, is record setting in both numbers and growth. So yes, sex obviously sells. This is not new news and does not spell the downfall of modern society.

Sports are about entertainment for profit. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Women who play traditional football should be very proud of what they do, and no doubt, they love the sport or they wouldn’t be playing it for what I can only assume is a VERY limited and non-profitable fanbase. Lingerie Football is clearly a lot different than the NFL version of the game—just like MMA is very different from boxing. Yes, they’re both fighting sports, but the marketed demographic isn’t necessarily the same. But of course in some cases, being similar in nature, they are.

Stick thin girls with Double-E bra sizes, running around naked? When you hold open try-outs for a brand new sport such as Lingerie Football, you’re obviously going to get your fair share of Hooters waitresses and strip-club bimbos trying out. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to make the team. Make no mistake, whether these girls come from a football background or not, they are extremely fit athletes. And probably, not unlike in the NFL, they are surprisingly smart as well. In that regard, these women will definitely serve as role-models for young girls. Sound scary? Try opening up any one of those grocery store teen magazines if you want to see the type of anorexic females that are already influencing our youth. Now that’s scary!

I think LFL Chairman and Commissioner, Mitchell S. Mortaza said it best when he stated, “Mark my words, ask 100-percent of the fans leaving the arena, that if within the first three or four plays, that they honestly did not forget what the girls were wearing and ended up watching what amounted to be a really fun and entertaining sporting event. It’s the most unique thing that you’ve got to see in person.”

In other words, the modelling is what initially attracts fans to the sport (not unlike how many MMA promotions such as the UFC and Bellator use ring girls to promote their brands), but it’s the hard-hitting action that keeps them in their seats and coming back for more.

The critics will always exist and they are certainly entitled to believe whatever they want. They don’t have to like it. Heck, they don’t even have to watch it if they don’t want to, but it’s about time that they all started to accept the fact that the LFL is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger and more popular by the day. And as the LFL grows, the level of legitimate top female athletes who participate in this sport will dramatically improve.

Just give it time.

And finally, here’s another perspective to consider… My own daughter is a Sutherland model out of Toronto and a former high school rugby player. She is beautiful, smart (currently attending College), tough as nails, and a tremendous athlete, which I don’t have to tell you is quite the amazing combination. She has never once expressed an interest in the LFL (not to me anyway) ,but if she did, I fail to see how she would be harming anyone by simply combining all of her passions and skills together into one fun and exciting career.

Then again, these are all just my opinions. If you don’t like them…I have others.

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James Ryan @TheSportstender

James Ryan
James Ryan

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