It’s the fastest growing sports league in the US, according to BusinessWeek magazine. It’s also the fastest growing women’s sport in the world, according to Brisbane Entertainment Centre general manager Trish McNamara.
Did I mention it involves attractive women, in lingerie, playing modified NFL football?
(Gallery from today’s press release and video below)
While A-League clubs die and NRL teams suffer severe financial difficulty, the Lingerie Football League (LFL) is having a crack at the Australian market.
They are holding two exhibition games, in Brisbane’s Entertainment Centre on June 2 and Sydney’s AllPhones Arena on June 9, ahead of the launch of an Australian league in 2013 featuring teams from Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane.
The first LFL game was played in Los Angeles in 2004. Sponsors and TV coverage followed, and in 2009 a fully-fledged competition was formed. Over the past three years the LFL has secured a national TV deal in the US and is shown in more than 40 countries around the US, including Australia.
It has already held games in Canada and Mexico, and is planning to create leagues in Canada and Europe over the next two years.
As mentioned, in Australia, the LFL is shown on Fuel TV and organisers claim it has developed a “cult-like following” on the pay TV channel. It’s hard to move past the view that this is a sexist sport that objectifies women, purely for male viewers. But the LFL claims this is not the case.
“Most people have not seen a game, haven’t been a to a game, they’re just basing it on the term that it’s called the Lingerie Football League and that’s understandable,” Mitchell S. Mortaza, chairman and founder of the LFL, says.
“But honestly when you go to a game, what you’re going to see is incredible athletes that were former collegiate athletes that take the game very seriously.
“We use, certainly sex appeal in the title Lingerie Football League to sell the product, to bring media attention to it, to bring in curious fans but unless it was a real sport and we were serious about the athletics it wouldn’t have shelf life.
“Not only would it not sustain, it wouldn’t grow and we’re seeing the growth, both domestically and internationally, and that’s happening because of our focus on the athletics of it. Is it objectifying women? I don’t think so. They’re all educated women… They wouldn’t allow themselves to be objectified.”
The face of the LFL’s push into Australia is Australian player Chloe Butler, who is a member of the LA Temptation.
Butler, a former Australian rep hurdler and ACT rugby union player, says: “We definitely wouldn’t be a part of it if it were objectifying 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.
Adrian Purcell, two-time LFL All Star with Tampa Breeze, says: “I would never allow myself to be objectified. People come to the games for the uniform but they come back for what we put out there, the product we put out there.”
Check out my interview with LFL head Mitchell Mortaza and some footage of the media event today at Sydney’s Centennial Park below.
The LFL says it’s a real sport, one not played by models. The league proudly brags about the broken arms and noses its players have suffered as a sign of its toughness and competitiveness.
Real sport or not, the LFL has bold plans for Australia and the world. They say they are outpacing where the WWE and UFC were in their third seasons, and the creation of a World Cup and World Bowl is in place for 2014. NFL, the premium gridiron competition in the US, is not very popular in Australia, so it remains to be see how big a crowd they will pull.
Beach volleyball is played in bikinis at the Olympics, is this any different? Obviously other women’s sports here like the W-League and WNBL are played with proper uniforms, but undoubtedly the LFL would point to its wide appeal and global success as reasons for its use of lingerie.
The simple fact is, it’s hard to take seriously when the players are in their bras. But, according to LFL player Purcell, there are “no pillow fights” or “sleepovers”. Feminists won’t love it, but readers of Zoo Weekly will.
What do you think, Roarers?