OMG Lingerie Football! Now Excuse Me While I Die A Little Inside
Monday, August 03, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist

Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports Shutdown Corner and, allow me to share this video, where the QB of the Philadelphia Passion explains how they're going to pass and run and all that good shit this season in the Lingerie Football League.

"We're going to defense each other". Yes. Peyton Manning could not have expressed the essence of football more passionately and clearly. The "With Leather" blog has a hilarious comment on this new league that you should check out (far be it for me to reprint and ruin someone else's funny joke).

I assume that most of my readers out there don't need me to go on a rant about all the ways this offends me. I am going to trust that you people recognize on your own all the levels of total wrongness going on here. I will say that as a former rugby player, I cringed at the one girl tackling the other girl up around the shoulder pads. Also, as a former rugger, I wish I had a better body so I could play in this league, because I would totally lay those Buffys out.

I'm instead going to talk about women's pro sports. Sadly, the Lingerie Football League is probably the only way you're going to see women be paid for playing football. I know there are some pro women's leagues out there (in fact, I'm flirting with trying out for my own local team, the D.C. Divas). Still, here's my issue with the idea of calling that sort of league "professional":

1) You have no feeder league for the "pro" league. You can't be a professional player if you've never played the game before. The game of football just calls for too many specific skills and too much position-based knowledge to acquire in a year or even in 5 years. In addition, having no feeder leagues means your talent pool is diminished, because you don't have millions of young girls being introduced to the sport as players. You only get people like me, who are crazy enough to want to start playing football later in life.

2) The title of "professional" would indicate to me that the players make enough in salary to make a significant impact on their personal finances. I'm not sure they make ANY salary, to be honest, and not near enough to sustain a living without having another job. It sort of seems like "well-sponsored amateurs" would be a more accurate description of where the sport of women's football is at this point. Also, according to the Divas website, you have to PAY to tryout for the squad which... feels a touch sketchy to me, if I'm being honest.

3) As a fan, there's a certain level of skill you expect if someone's going to sell a game to you as "pro" level. And again... with no feeder leagues, you aren't getting anything close to men's professional football. You're not even getting close to high school football levels of play.

Looking at other professional women's leagues, I think they've come a long way. Again, the main leagues - the WNBA and WPS - do have great feeder leagues. More and more young girls are getting involved in soccer and basketball. Women's college hoops were already exciting at an almost pro-level, so there wasn't a big leap to make to go pro. Plus, there were already star athletes from the U.S. going overseas to play their sport professionally, so there was a good pool of experienced pros to choose from when the WNBA started.

However, obviously both leagues are struggling financially. It's well known that several WNBA players still need to play overseas in the off-season or carry some extra job to make ends meet. Several WNBA franchises were shuttered this season as well (no collapse was more devastating to me than the Houston Comets closing up). The WUSA league folded in 2003 after losing a significant amount of money. The new WPS league seems better poised to survive long term (though whether pro soccer - men's OR women's - will ever truly catch on to the levels of the big 4 in the US remains to be seen).

Part of me wonders if this is a chicken-or-egg scenario. Because you only get truly awesome levels of players when there's a strong incentive for those players coming up through the feeder leagues to work their butts off, to sacrifice and strain and push themselves to the limits of their sport. Men's pro leagues now benefit from players who have single-mindedly pursued the heights of their sports almost their entire life. That's because they can look at something like Matthew Stafford's rookie contract ($41.6 million guaranteed) and know that there's a substantial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

On the other hand, you can't get those kind of financial rewards unless interest in your sport supports that kind of revenue. And you can't get that kind of buzz and hype unless you have players who are remarkable athletes, who play at the highest level. Passion for the game is very important, don't get me wrong. On the other hand, passion alone never put food on the table (nor did it buy a yacht and a lot of bling).
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On 1:08 PM , Beers said...

The Philly team looks tough. Especially if they're running the "Hello Kitty" playbook.