LFL far more than just skimpy outfits

Anna Heasman Columnist

By Anna Heasman, Anna Heasman is a Roar Expert

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    Anna Heasman for the Green Bay Chill (Image: Legends Football League LLC)

    With the kick-off of the inaugural season of Legends Football League Australia still just under three weeks away, the negative publicity has already started to surface.

    The Australian competition consists of four teams – New South Surge, Queensland Brigade, Western Australia Angels and Victorian Maidens – with the season opener being a State of Origin-esque matchup between the Surge and Brigade at Centrebet Stadium.

    I am very eager to see whether the sport takes off in Australia. The fast-paced, high-scoring, 7 on 7 version of full contact American football will certainly be a novelty for Australian audiences – not to mention our skin-baring uniforms which are always a source of heated debate in the media.

    Obviously beautiful, athletic women playing footy is an instant hit with the greater male audience for obvious reasons, but it also sparks many ethical concerns for a large number of people as well.

    It certainly is understandable from an outsider’s perspective issues of sexism naturally come to the fore.

    However, if I felt I was selling my soul for a chance to play footy at a high level I would not play.

    Myself and the rest of the Legends Football League community spend a lot of time justifying the sport and why we play.

    We play for the love of competition, the same reason any athlete commits to their respective sports.

    The sad reality of women’s sport is that it takes a novelty approach to attract a decent fan base and the sponsorship and commercial benefits that come with it.

    We are an aesthetically driven society, as much as we like to believe that we’re better than that.

    It does prove exhausting continually facing the critics and truthfully it seems to be women that are hardest on their fellow women.

    Many of us learn that from a young age in the school yard. This has happened a number of times – I’ll be out and about with my team promoting our games and hand a pamphlet to a guy in a sports jersey.

    His wife then promptly whisks in, grabs his wrist and pulls him away, simultaneously taking said pamphlet, screwing it up and throwing it in the bin in disgust leaving me (a happily married, educated woman) feeling like a bit of a prostitute, for lack of a better word.

    Thankfully that’s not always the story, and I always love winning over female fans.

    Sometimes it takes watching a game for people to appreciate the skill and athleticism of the players. We don’t just whack on a bikini and have a pillow fight, we train hard and hit hard.

    The thing I don’t understand is that it’s ok to wear a bikini on the beach, it’s ok to wear lingerie on the catwalk (like Aussie sweetheart Miranda Kerr), it’s ok to wear a small uniform in a beach volleyball court and it’s ok to wear a skimpy uniform on the sidelines cheerleading at a footy game.

    However somehow the combination of a skimpy uniform whilst competing on anything other than sand, a catwalk or sideline instigates a societal gag reflex!

    I’m not a dill and realise the issue is a little more complex than that, I just don’t take the uniform too seriously – just the football.

    The Legends Football League continues to evolve and the standard of play is ever-improving. I can assure you put the aforementioned lovely Miranda Kerr on the field, no offence intended but she would not last 1 down!

    To Australian sports fans: if you’re sceptical, games will be broadcast on 7Mate so give it a watch before you make up your mind.

    I’m quietly confident Australian audiences will ‘give it a go’!

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • Roar Guru

      November 18th 2013 @ 11:41am
      Justin Twell said | November 18th 2013 @ 11:41am | ! Report

      Interesting article Anna. I was actually watching some highlights of the LFL only last week and I was certainly impressed with the hard-hitting nature of the game, which definitely peaked my attention.

      It’s easy for me to sit here and talk about the skimpy outfits etc but in all honestly the level of play was very good. I do wonder though whether the outfits worn are necessary but the ones worn currently certainly add to the spectacle as a male American Football fan.

    • November 18th 2013 @ 12:11pm
      Jack Russell said | November 18th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

      I’ve seen the game on one of the pay TV sports channels last year.

      The first 10 minutes or so were interesting, but the novelty of chicks not wearing much does wear off fairly quickly. Then it comes down to the quality of the sport, which may well be a decent level for women, but sadly it doesn’t cut it compared to the NFL or College football. Which I guess is the problem for most women’s sport.
      Combine that with the lack of knowledge of the game in Australia and it’s hard to see it lasting more than 1 season. They would have been better off playing Australian football or rugby league as opposed to American football. Not that it would have guaranteed success by any means, but it would have increased it’s chances.

      • November 18th 2013 @ 3:18pm
        AJ said | November 18th 2013 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

        +1.
        Given that they were happy to change the name from “Lingerie” football league, I was surprised and perplexed that the didn’t also change the football which was played. Australia is already embroiled in a feud between the four rival codes. It is difficult to see another one getting a foothold.

        Also their player base would surely have been broader if they adapted the LFL (i.e. wore the same clothes) to play AFL, league or union.

        Furthermore, don’t understand why they want to have the expense of travel. Four localised pools in each of the states would have made much more sense.

      • Columnist

        November 19th 2013 @ 3:39pm
        Anna Heasman said | November 19th 2013 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

        Jack I think that if it were a mainstream Australian sport the comparisons to the standard of the corresponding male game would be more readily drawn. Due to our anatomical and hormonal differences yes, we are not as fast or strong as men in many ways. However would you not watch regional football, lower grades of a national comp, younger athletes in age divisions, the Paralympics? In my option talent is appreciable across all sporting categories independent of age, sex, disability etc.

    • Roar Guru

      November 18th 2013 @ 12:28pm
      HardcorePrawn said | November 18th 2013 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

      I think it’s safe to assume that the bloke whose wife screws up your pamphlet is probably not allowed more than a sideways glance at girls in bikinis on the beach, nor watch Miranda Kerr in lingerie on a catwalk, take any interest in beach volleyball, or pay any attention to cheerleaders!

      In all seriousness though, while I’ve no doubt that the competitors are all skilled athletes, and committed to their sport, LFL will never be able to shake off its critics in Australia due to the way it is being marketed here.

      We already know that it will be broadcast on 7mate – a channel that unashamedly promotes itself as offering “sport, comedy and big movies for blokes” – making it (I think) the sole women-only sport to attract the interest of the commercial FTA networks. Why would that be I wonder?
      A quick look at 7mate’s ads says it all (see below). Could you imagine a network advertising netball or women’s tennis in the same way? And if they did, would the wife mentioned in the article above allow her partner to watch?

      Additionally, despite the name change, but thanks to the retention of the LFL acronym, it will always be known in some circles as Lingerie Football League, and with good reason, the promoters will have wanted to keep the brand alive.

      The ad, in all its glory:

      • Columnist

        November 19th 2013 @ 3:50pm
        Anna Heasman said | November 19th 2013 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

        Hardcoreprawn, valid points. I don’t think that image is provocative do you? I think its pretty fierce! The women pictured is the line backer for Vegas, she played out the season with a knee brace after doing her ACL – an amazing competitor. Let me reiterate that we play for the football.

        • Roar Guru

          November 19th 2013 @ 4:15pm
          HardcorePrawn said | November 19th 2013 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

          Hello Anna,

          Have you seen the full ad in the link above though? The emphasis is very much on sweaty girls in bikinis, not the sport itself – coverage of which is restricted to a few seconds of on-field action mainly limited to… yes, more sweaty girls in bikinis!

          The point I’m making here is that despite the best intentions of the competitors, 7mate are promoting it as being about the girls, not the sport. With its only broadcaster pushing the sport in that way I reckon the LFL will have a lot of difficulty winning over the critics.

          I can’t be totally sure, but in my opinion I think that maybe Roller Derby strikes a better balance with its marketing, i.e. it’s a sport involving “hot girls” (and apologies for using the term!), as well as being fiercely competitive and still appealing to a non-gender specific audience at the same time.
          In fact, going on what Mrs Prawn and her friends think, it seems that Roller Derby is more popular with female audiences than male.

          • Columnist

            November 19th 2013 @ 6:57pm
            Anna Heasman said | November 19th 2013 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

            I know it appears contradictory saying ‘take us seriously’ and then you see the marketing which is pretty blatent. Its a love/hate relationship I guess – the LFL has gained the platform and provided the opportunties it has because of it, yes sex sells. If it were up to me I would take a different approach, however I do not have a business oriented bone in my body and it would no doubt fail catastrophically. All I wish to do is prove myself on the field…unfortunately is the case of ‘now we have your attention….watch some football’! I’m with Mrs Prawn in that roller derby is a hit amongst women, its hugely physical, entertaining, edgey, and also run/governed by women. Its interesting though that the players choose to wear revealing uniforms – they have a bit of fun with it and it’s empowering in a way. I would love to give it a go! Although I fear being on wheels, any coordination I did have would go flying out the door……followed by a face plant

            • Roar Guru

              November 20th 2013 @ 11:04am
              HardcorePrawn said | November 20th 2013 @ 11:04am | ! Report

              I think that most women’s sports have a love/hate relationship with marketing.

              We’re no longer surprised when we see a sport’s more attractive competitors get all the media attention, and attract lucrative sponsorship deals, at the expense of better performers.
              Witness how much more media coverage beaten finalist Sabine Lisicki generated during this year’s Wimbledon than the eventual winner Marion Bartoli.

              Maybe if LFL doesn’t succeed in Australia this time around, then it might be an idea for it to take a leaf out of Roller Derby’s book. Perhaps marketing itself as an edgy women’s sport (albeit one for those that can’t stand on wheels!), and attempting to attract a bit of a hipster audience could be the way to go to dissociate the sport from its perception as being about girls in skimpy outfits.
              But then, would the TV networks still be interested? Despite Roller Derby’s popularity, and apart from the occasional screening of Drew Barrymore’s Whip It and a storyline involving Derby girls on an episode of CSI, I don’t recall ever seeing it on TV!

    • November 18th 2013 @ 12:56pm
      Mals said | November 18th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

      Cheers for the heads up Anna. What days/times will it be broadcast on 7mate?

    • November 18th 2013 @ 3:44pm
      Steve said | November 18th 2013 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

      Well, good luck to you.
      Baseball and, I believe, Pro-football, started out with a lot of gimmickry and novelties and then evolved into being taken more seriously, so maybe that will happen here. Truth be told, American Football can only hope for a niche market at best in Aus, so I think presenting the sport as a straight up serious rival to the other codes would be a mistake (if people want that, they’ll just watch NFL). I’d watch the LFL for the novelty factor, and if there are interesting games and rivalries and personalities, I’d keep watching.

      • Columnist

        November 19th 2013 @ 4:16pm
        Anna Heasman said | November 19th 2013 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

        Thanks Steve, time will tell I guess!

    • November 18th 2013 @ 4:09pm
      Ian Whitchurch said | November 18th 2013 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

      It’s legitimate footy, but I’d prefer if they put on a pair of shorts and a top.

      • November 19th 2013 @ 1:32pm
        catcat said | November 19th 2013 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

        +1

        • November 22nd 2013 @ 12:08pm
          Shrek said | November 22nd 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          +1

      • Columnist

        November 19th 2013 @ 4:17pm
        Anna Heasman said | November 19th 2013 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

        Thanks Ian, appreciate it

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