The Lingerie Football League – lets not pretend it’s about sport

Take Action! [UPDATED]

Sign the Petition New petition! Channel 7: don’t broadcast sexist Lingerie Football League

Watch – Ex Lingerie Football League Players speak out 

Undercover at the Sydney LFL try-outs - Tal Stone reports

Deborah Malcolm reports on Sydney LFL game

Scroll down for more details on how to take action

Lingerie football is the latest ‘sport’ (fad) to come out of America, and is now making its way to Australian shores. The Lingerie Football League (LFL) is exactly how it sounds. Female football players wearing lingerie while playing football; or more specifically a modified version of US NFL football.

The LFL began as a form of half time entertainment for regular NFL games on Super Bowl Sunday, but has since grown to become what is now being marketed as ‘the ultimate live sports experience’. This blatantly sexist game does not represent a true ‘sport’, or women as serious sports players.

Rather, as its own official website describes, the LFL is ‘True Fantasy Football”.

Despite the blatant objectification of women and even the LFL’s own website claiming that it is a ‘fantasy’ sport, they continue to claim that it does not objectify women.

Is it objectifying women? I don’t think so. They’re all educated women, they wouldn’t allow themselves to be objectified”, said chairman Mitch Mortaza.

However, Mortaza has also admitted in interviews that the selection of female players is based on their physical appearance.

Looks are definitely a part of it. We don’t pull any punches there. We have to be able to market this sport.

Does Mortaza even know what ‘objectification’ is?

The contract designed by the league shows female players have little choice other than to be objectified if they wish to play. The contract, which ensures women wear as little clothing as possible, gives the league the right to fine players as much as $500 if they wear anything underneath their lingerie.

Player shall not wear any additional garments under wardrobe provided by producer without prior consent…Should player violate this clause, player shall be fined a total sum of five hundred dollars per occurance.

The uniforms make it inevitable that these women will have their breasts and more exposed at some time during the game—which is exactly what Mortaza and male fans are hoping for. A specific clause in the contract regarding ‘accidental nudity’ says:

…Performances hereunder may involve accidental nudity. Player knowingly and voluntarily agrees to provide player’s services hereunder and has no objection to providing services involving player’s accidental nudity.

If you want to be considered a ‘real athlete’ you can’t object. This was acknowledged by Mortaza himself when speaking with The Times.

The women who play for the league are former college-level athletes that have few other alternatives if they want to continue to compete at a high level in women’s sport… These are competitive college-level athletes looking to tap back into a national stage”,

When speaking about the safety requirements for the sport, Mortaza claims on the LFL website that,

“We at the LFL consistently test our equipment to insure the highest degree of safety and challenge our partners to continue to develop the next generation equipment that will further protect our players.”

It is hard to imagine how lingerie, a hockey helmet and some knee pads constitute as ‘the highest degree of safety’. The LFL has been careful to design their ‘safety equipment’ around the premise of maximum body exposure. Martin Winquist from The Sheaf (2012) writes:

“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” don’t monopolize one’s ogling,”

Winquist rejects the notion that the game is not about objectification, explaining that:

“As much as the league’s media spin-doctors may claim the league is about football and that these women are just like any other athletes, one look at the uniforms, the equipment, the ads and the athletes themselves must send our bullshit detectors into overdrive. Don’t get me wrong, these women are certainly athletes, but if you think of them as similar to professional wrestlers you’re on your way to understanding the LFL.”

When questioned about their reasons for joining the LFL, the female players seem torn between standing up for their ‘sport’ and being truthful about the way they are objectified.

Tampa Breeze Florida player Liz Gorman spoke with CBC Radio earlier this year about how she loved playing football and wanted to be a positive role model, but she seemed lost for words when questioned about how she could support women’s sport positively whilst having to wear uniforms that were clearly exploitive.

“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.”

“Sex sells…It’s a business. We don’t get the same media as men… so it’s obviously not the players that are choosing this,”

LFL player Gorman also confirmed in her interview with CBC that aside from the all-star games, the female players do not get paid. Below is a transcript of the conversation.

CBC: “You don’t get paid?

Gorman: “No…it does get frustrating.”

CBC: “It sounds like you’re doing it because you love to play football and you want to play, and you accept the other sacrifices that come with it.”

Gorman: “Yeah…(silent for some time). It’s the truth,”

So while athletes like David Beckham get paid millions of dollars to play sport fully clothed, the message that the LFL spreads is very clear: if you’re a woman accept that you have to play half naked, accept instances of ‘accidental nudity’, injure your body on the field due to lack of safe clothing, and to top it all off do it for free.

Despite all of this, sadly there are several female players who have fallen for the lie that LFL doesn’t objectify women. Chloe Butler (Australian LFL player and former Playboy model) stated that she “definitely wouldn’t be a part of it” if the game objectified women.

“You have to admit it, marketing is a huge part of the entertainment business,”

Butler likened it to the use of sex appeal by English footballer David Beckham.

Apparently the fact that Beckham is paid millions of dollars for playing sport – and we might add, completely clothed—while these women are paid nothing for wearing lingerie, failed to register with Butler. While Beckham may be marketed sexually in his underwear advertisements, he is definitely not asked to sacrifice safety for ratings.

Adrian Purnell, two-time LFL All Star with Tampa Breeze, also seems to be under the deception that men see them as ‘real athletes’.

“People come to the games for the uniform but they come back for what we put out there, the product we put out there,”

Purnell, it is actually the lack of uniform that brings the customers in, and the player’s bodies that keep them coming back for more.  Fans comment :

“I feel bad for the girls playing this taking it seriously. No1 but the players are even the slightest bit interested in athletic ability…”

“Nude football would be better- make it happen bastards,”

“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. Should have been called the ’Girls in Conservative Shorts With No Ass Cheek Showing Bowl’. Just a total waste.”

It has however, been encouraging to see some women’s sports advocates already speaking out about the Lingerie Football League.

University of Sydney sports management Professor Tracy Taylor quoted in The Brisbane Times says the league has little to do with sport.

“The game itself of course is based on physical activity, but the hype surrounding it and the target audience are not generally attending to support sport but to be ‘entertained’ by women running around in their lingerie getting hot and sweaty and getting physical with one another,” Professor Taylor said.

“While many of the players in the existing league are athletes they are certainly not taken seriously in North America and I can not see how the introduction of the league here would be good for women’s sport.”

Australian WomenSport and Recreation Association president Janice Crosswhite stated in an ASC media release:

This League is sexist and demeaning to all women. In a society where women have been seeking and starting to secure equal rights and respect on and off the sporting field, this development undoes so much of the hard work being done by many sporting organizations across the country.

By asking us to strip down to our underwear to play sport, we can only assume that the Leagues do not consider women talented enough to play a sport fully clothed, and are therefore spreading a hateful message that women need to accept that their bodies (or more importantly, men’s views of their bodies) are the only way of affirming their worth on a sports field.

The Australian Sports Commission states that the LFL does not adhere to the “core principles of sport in Australia—fairness, respect, responsibility and safety,” and therefore is not as a sport that they support. However, we have already seen Ticketek Australia and Triple M advertising the LFL in Australia as a ‘sport’, and therefore it is vital that our Government steps in.

Concerned writer Lily Munroe contacted the Commission and explained that whilst they may not consider it a ‘sport’, “the government should still hold the same responsibilities to its people as set out by the ASC.”

Munroe also points out, as the ASC states, that

‘sexploitation is not simply a matter of skimpy costumes on female bodies. It is also the inappropriate portrayal of female athletes either in their sporting apparel or in alternative situations.’

There is a wealth of research which links the sexualisation of women to poor body image and eating disorders, and the creation of LFL is no different. It teaches young women, men, and athletes that women have no place in sports as a ‘serious athlete’, only as a sexual object.

Introducing such a ‘sport’ into Australian culture will only increase the already high number of women suffering from poor self-body image, and will alienate many other women who want to play sport but either don’t fit the physical mould presented by LFL, or don’t feel comfortable in such an environment.

Thanks to Jasmine Swilks for writing this article and to Lily Munroe for research.

[UPDATE] Herald Sun Article – Outcry over Lingerie Football League’s planned Australian Visit

Take Action!

You can stand up against the LFL bringing their sexist portrayal of women’s sport to Australia by signing the petition on www.change.org

Stop the Lingerie Football League in Australia

 

Please also sign this petition started by a group of Melbourne School Students:

Triple M: Stop the promotion and support of A Lingerie Football League in Australia 

New petition! Sign and share – Channel 7: Don’t broadcast sexist lingerie football league

Contact these sponsors and supporters directly:

Stop promotion and sponsorship of the Lingerie Football League

Triple M Sydney 

Triple M Brisbane

Seven Yahoo Sports - au-advertising@yahoo-inc.com

Telecafe – email: customer.service@telecafe.com.au

Cancel the Lingerie Football League events

The Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Allphones Stadium Sydney

Contact the Minister for Sport and Recreation

Senator Kate Lundy:  Senator.Lundy@aph.gov.au

More contact details for Senator Lundy here.

Media

Outcry over Lingerie Football League’s planned Australian visit

Melinda Tankard Reist on 3AW 693 Drive program with Derryn Hinch

Melinda Tankard Reist interviewed on 266 Talk Radio 1206 

Storm in a D-Cup over game

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28 Comments

  1. phat
    Posted 17 May ’12 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    On the contrary, this show might be a good motivation for females in a country with a serious overweight population problem. ;) Those rambling about “exploitation” are perhaps just jealous of the figures of the girls of the field. Typical.

    • Andrew
      Posted 17 May ’12 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      There are both men and women who can recognise the exploitative nature of LFL- a ‘sport’ where players are unpaid, exposed to injury, arguably limited in other professional sporting options and made to play IN THEIR UNDERWEAR. Like jelly-wrestling.

      But I get it. Acknowledging that these women are being exploited would disrupt your selfish enjoyment of the ‘game’- and let’s face it, your getting off is more important than the treatment of these women.

    • Munch
      Posted 21 May ’12 at 2:36 am | Permalink

      And your’s a typical male-centric, defensive response to a deplorable situation. I wish for you a daughter who one day comes home to tell you that she is going to be a really fit- and- not- fat- athlete in LFL. I would love to see your response that day.

    • CC
      Posted 21 May ’12 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      to “phat”
      yeah, thats all women need. throw more wood on the body image problems fire.
      you dont deserve to breathe. do you have a mother? sisters? God forbid, a daughter?
      i wish you would pull your hand out of your underpants, and look around.
      these are people. actual people. even if they lack the conviction to demand it for themselves, these women deserve more than to be slobered on by the likes of you.

  2. Tina
    Posted 17 May ’12 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    What a slap in the face to real female athletes. Real female athletes are not involved in sport based on their sex appeal or their ability to be ogled by men. The LFL reduces women to sexy entertainment for men. This hurts all women in sport- and all women.

    • Jeff
      Posted 5 Jan ’13 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Not sure I completely agree with that comment. Consider women’s beach volleyball – it’s a “real” sport, yet the competitors are encouraged to wear skimpy bikinis. They don’t have to. There’s nothing to say they can’t wear shorts and shirts – nothing, that is, but marketing. Same applies to the LFL. I’m not a fan of the LFL, but it’s competitive, has a fan-base and is marketing to its specific audience. That would certainly qualify it as a sport. The women involved make a choice to participate – and the spectators (men and women) make a choice to watch or support it. To be clear, I don’t – but that doesn’t mean others can’t or shouldn’t.

  3. Nipplegate Nonsense
    Posted 17 May ’12 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Our very own Nipplegate! Who would have thought?

    I am slightly amused as the sponsors of this must not have read about the bad publicity from the whole Superbowl and Janet Jackson saga. Lawsuits were filed, the main sponsor asked for money back and over half a million Americans complained.

    Triple M, Brisbane Entertainment. Telecafe, Seven Sports and Allphones Stadium – all I can say is bad marketing move!

    People (or should I say mostly men) will sit there and attack any female who stands up and speaks out against this event. That’s right, they just think that this is their right to sit and get excited about women wearing little clothing let alone proper protection for their pure enjoyment. If it is truly about the sport, then let them cover up!

    It is interesting we don’t see men playing sports without their tops and only in jocks – maybe that is because we would actually learn that half of the footballers aren’t as “big” as they lead everyone to believe when they send images from their mobile phones… just saying!

    Give me a break! Haven’t we moved on from the sadistic ways of when humans watched the belittlement of others in a ring. Haven’t we moved forward as a society to respect one another?

    We all sign petitions to stamp out poverty because poor people are the underdogs and need us to be their advocate. Well, here we have girls being used because it is the only way for them to play elite football. They are fined if they wear more than just lingerie and be ok to have the occasional nudity whilst playing a game they love and just want to play. Who will be their advocate? The actual players are not happy with the rules put upon them yet people still think it is ok. To me there is no difference between poverty and exploitation. Those with less are servant to those who have power and money.

    So, to all the whiners out there who whinge about women standing up against this all I can say is that I hope you are totally ok with people lusting after your mother, wife, sister or even daughter because that is the culture you are creating in our society.

    And to all the people out there who think this lingerie football is ridiculous and exploiting women for profit should be stopped then sign the petition Collective Shout have going. Tell your friends and let’s be a nation that has over half a million people stand up for women to be able to play sport without the sexualised saga.

    Don’t delay, sign today!

    http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-lingerie-football-league-in-australia

  4. Cassidy
    Posted 21 May ’12 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Underpaid semi-naked women who risk injury for male entertainment does not constitute sport!

  5. Tina Marie
    Posted 21 May ’12 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to make a comment on PHATS post – you must be a super model yeah? “Typical” of a man to think that women would be jealous. It has nothing to do with body shape. Such class and talent these ladies have to run around in their bra and undies and play ball?!!
    I was shocked to read this article and agree with Melinda Tankard Reist that this “Is as Sexist as it gets”. It’s degrading to women and even female athletes who take their sport/fitness seriously. Women are more than just objects and children do not need to be exposed to this.

  6. Patrick
    Posted 21 May ’12 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    If you don’t like it, don’t go to it. What right do you have to impose your personal morality on other people?

    • Jamie
      Posted 23 May ’12 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Respect for women isn’t ‘personal morality’. Turning a blind eye to sexism doesn’t stop it.

    • Roberts
      Posted 3 Jun ’12 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Hey Patrick,
      I feel like fighting against it is not imposing your morality on others but rather fighting for something your passionate about… I guess I just worry about the future and children and anorexia and mental health problems, cos it seems like everything is getting more raunchy and there is so much pressure on girls to be sexy and boys too! In an article I read by the American Psychological Association, they mentioned that sport was something that females could be involved in and a way in which they can be seen as something other then sexual beings, and a way in which they weren’t sexualised. I guess I just worry that soon every sport for girls will require ridiculous outfits and stuff and i want girls to be able to play all sports and be taken just as seriously as guys!

      But anyway…you have the right to fight the other way around… and feel free to come back at me with a response!

  7. Kate
    Posted 22 May ’12 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Patrick. Also, how come no one has mentioned that there are plenty of other sports that women can participate in, including fully-clothed gridiron? This would not exist if the women playing the sport did not want to play…

    While I am at it, how come all men are being treated as pigs in this article? I’m a woman yet I am happy to go to this event. You do know that you can also be sexist towards men too? Having said that I’d also like to see a mens version of LFL too…

    • Ashleigh
      Posted 23 May ’12 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      The LFL is the only opportunity for women to play gridiron at elite level. Women DO want to play this sport but the LFL doesn’t give them the opportunity to do it. Check out this awesome vid from two US players if you don’t believe me: http://bit.ly/s2GMwd

      I don’t see where this article treats men like pigs? Sadly I do read a lot of quotes from men behaving like them when it comes the LFL though :(

  8. Claire
    Posted 23 May ’12 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    This campaign has prompted me to contact companies for the first time ever to express my concern about them supporting such a hiddeous event. I contacted all of the Diamond and Gold sponsors of Allphones arena to ask them to confront Allphones Arena about hosting these events, and pointed out to them that on Allphones webpage, the sponsor logos sat right next to the ads for LFL. Peters/Nestle contacted me yesterday and again today. They have had their logo removed from the webpage and asked that their brand have no association with these events aside from at the kiosk at the events themselves. Hooray for small victories! Now to get more sponsors to withdraw to make Allphones cancel these events…..

  9. Claire
    Posted 23 May ’12 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I made my first ever complaints to companies because of this campaign. I contacted all of the Diamond and Gold sponsors of Allphones Arena and informed them that their logos were displayed next to the advertising for LFL. I asked them if they supported this event and if they were happy for their brand to be associated with it. Peters/Nestle contacted me today to say they have had their logo removed from the sponsor page. Hopefully the first of many! Thanks for the prompting :-)

  10. Stewart
    Posted 25 May ’12 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    This reminds me of Beach Volly Ball (better known as Perv Ball); the next step from their skimpy bikini is the G-string! I still see girls aged from 5 up in revealing top & bottom lycra for school/club sport while the boys are in knee length shorts & baggy singlets/shirts, fully covered! The sexism starts early! Those in charge, men & women, are more interested in freedom & expresion than respect & virtue. This also reminds me of Fernwood Fitness, the most separatist organisation of it’s type. Keep up the good work.

    • Team CS
      Posted 25 May ’12 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Hi Stewart,

      The Australian Sports Commission acknowledges that there is a problem with the requirements for Volleyball Uniforms, they call it ‘sexploitation.’ Having said that, it could be argued that at least Beach Volleyball uniforms fit the context. Beach Volleyball, Beach, swimwear. Lingerie on a football field? That’s nothing other than sexual objectification.

      We have heard from other parents about the uniform requirements for their daughters in sport. We know of one mother who withdrew her daughter from netball because the daughter didn’t feel comfortable wearing the short, tight dresses they now require.

      I would say Fernwood Fitness exists because of the above issues. Many women do not feel comfortable working out in the same room as men.

  11. Laurel
    Posted 29 May ’12 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    So the only way women are able to play sports is to wear almost nothing. What does this tell girls and boys about the worth of women, and what is the message to these male football teams who are now being educated about treating women with respect. A few things to think about before taking this huge step towards normalising sexism and pornification even more.

  12. Luke
    Posted 29 May ’12 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Honestly this country does not need this kind of “entertainment”.

    I’m dissapointed – I thought we were a bit more sophisticated than the Americans.

  13. Tessa
    Posted 4 Jun ’12 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    The fact that people are not shocked & disgusted by this, that indeed reputable companies would sponsor it, & it would be marketed as family friendly is evidence that sexploitation is being normalized. We are at a point where our consciences are so dulled that we can’t even universally acknowledge that something is degrading.
    I challenge those in favour of this sport to consider if they’d let their teenage daughters run around on a field in lingerie?! It’s easy to treat women like objects for entertainment when they are nameless or without a context. But the reality is that these women are daughters, sisters, perhaps mothers & they are reduced to this mockery of a sport.
    Good on these women for being fit & athletic but why can’t women athletes be respected for their talent & not reduced to hot bodies. It reminds me of when the Matildas (aussie soccer team) posed naked for a calendar to show they were feminine. Something is wrong with our society. Why won’t people acknowledge it??

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Posted 6 Jun ’12 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Why is this exploitation? Nobody is forcing these ladies to participate in this “sport”. If you don’t like it, vote with your feet and don’t go to the game or take your kids. Besides, Australians don’t even like American football so it will be a flop no matter what you say. There are far bigger problems in the world we need to address right now. Get a life people.

  15. Dissapointed
    Posted 11 Jun ’12 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    I’m dissapointed that we managed to get this game in Australia. O say any more would be to simply repeat the article.

    Sadly, what dissapoints me MORE is the responses of those people who comment supporting this ‘sport’ or ‘event’. Clearly you all need to actually read the article, before commenting. It may also help to read another article related to the topic, or to consider the larger implications of this type of ‘event’ in Australia.

    And a final comment on this ‘sport’: peep shows and porn are CLEARLY marked as ‘adult’ entertainment (regardless of your approval or lack thereof of them) so what possesses you to sell family, or childrens tickets to something that is so close it differs in name only????

  16. James
    Posted 15 Jun ’12 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I can’t belive this passes for sport..

  17. skinnymini
    Posted 24 Oct ’12 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    So, the half naked cheerleaders aren’t enough? We need women in their under pants running around playing a contact “sport” because men need more soft porn? OK. Yeah, the Lingerie league is definitely sexist. It’s focus is not sport it is porn, pure and simple. Let’s not pretend it’s anything else. When something women do does not also apply to men (aside from obvious biological differences) it is by definition sexist. Men do not play football in their underway only. They are not out there to titillate (although those tight pants do titillate me, they’re not the focus). LFL is in the same vein as Hooters and Beauty Pageants. Sexist, insulting, demeaning crap. Cue the comments about me being a fat, homely and hairy man-hating feminist.

  18. AussieGridironPlayer
    Posted 15 Nov ’13 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    There are opportunities for women to play in full NCAA approved gear and rules in most countries including Australia. Our female teams train hard, hit hard and play the game as is intended. The LFL Australia players only want to get paid to play a sport on TV. If they truly love the pure game they’d be in full kit and playing for a team in their local state.
    If they truly expect good gate attendences through the gate, I say good luck with that. Coz it won’t happen in this country. And if it does, it won’t be for long.

  19. Paul
    Posted 27 Jan ’14 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    It’s just the same as girls and women perving on footballers.
    Finally there’s a sport where men get to do the same thing.
    I don’t see the problem here. It’s just entertainment!

  20. pissed off student
    Posted 14 Feb ’14 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    this Is sexist and is exactly what we must go against. sports like lfl are not sports but excuses for men to exploit women’s bodies and use them for their own entertainment. we as a civilisation should stop this before it grows to big. we cant let this sort of discrimination go around as if its ok. its wrong and really needs to be stopped. I may only be a year ten student but atleast I can see this is clearly wrong. women shouldn’t join a sport that has little to no protection or clothing, just to get acknowledgement. its wrong and sends the wrong message to us students.

    we need to stop this before it becomes to widely known. we have to stop lfl

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