Thursday, October 27, 2011

Player controversy shines unflattering light on Lingerie Football League

On Friday night, the Lingerie Football League’s Baltimore Charm could play against a skeleton crew of the Toronto Triumph after at least 16 Triumph players quit the team over safety concerns.
The players voiced concerns about improper equipment and poor coaching. They said they were equipped with ill-fitting hockey helmets and one-size-fits-all shoulder pads designed for young men, according to Toronto Star.
“We would have headaches during practice,” said former Triumph player Sandra Dalla Giustina. “They made a hockey helmet a football helmet, and that’s not what it’s for.”
She’s right. Those helmets are designed to deflect an occasional hockey puck or stick, not take the full force of a collision with another player or the hard ground.
Case in point: Check out the serious cut Baltimore Charm running back Kacey White suffered to her face when she was tackled on Sept. 16 in a game against the Orlando Fantasy. (See above photo.) She wouldn’t have gotten that injury with a football helmet.
The hockey helmets obviously were chosen so LFL fans could see the players’ attractive faces better. Safety was a secondary consideration.
Head coach Don Marchione ignored Triumph players’ requests to improve the equipment, the Star reported. And when players sustained injuries in their first game and only game of the season so far against the Tampa Breeze on Sept. 17, there were no medical personnel to treat them. In that game, players suffered sprained ankles, concussions and pulled hamstrings, the players said. (Game photo below.)
The reason for the “shoddy” equipment, as one player referred to it, is so spectators, mostly men, can observe the players’ bodies.
Male bloggers and commenters have been unsympathetic to the women who quit. This just reinforces negatives stereotypes about men and their perceptions of the LFL.
A writer at Barstool Sports, using the byline “kmarco,” wrote:

Chicks are so funny sometimes. Take themselves so seriously and act like what they do is so important when at the end of the day earning their living by running around a field in their panties getting in 99% naked pig piles. Hey sweethearts I hate to burst your competitive bubbles but this ain’t the NFL. Nobody cares about your form tackles and pass rush technique. Nobody cares about your intensity and desire to win. Just tighten up your bra, hike your thong up your asshole, and run some slow easy fly patterns so everyone can watch your tits bounce. Seriously if you’re getting concussions and sprained ankles playing lingerie football you’re doing it wrong.
Regardless of what organizers and many fans of the LFL think of their sport, the players take this game seriously. They hit hard, practice hard and play aggressively. They’re not “doing it wrong.” To play hard-nosed, smash-mouth football, you need the right equipment. And it’s pretty clear they’re not getting it.
The idea behind the LFL is as sexist as they get. But even two seasons in, I can see the players starting to turn this into a real sport.
The LFL doesn’t pay its players salaries, only their travel and equipment expenses. These players are in it for the love of the sport. The LFL is going to have to start treating its players like professional athletes, not commodities they can exploit.
LFL Chairman Mitchell Mortaza was dismissive of the complaints of the former Triumph players in a statement issued Tuesday.
“Apparently it never occurred to some former Toronto Triumph players that in tackle football you could possibly pull a hamstring or twist an ankle. True LFL athletes are actual football players who understand that in football, injuries happen, they do not pretend to be football players just to gain celebrity,” he said.
Mortaza argued that Triumph team members quit after an embarrassing performance in a 48-10 opening night loss to the Breeze.
It will be interesting to see what sort of team the Triumph fields for its game Friday. Various media reports said 16 to 22 of the team’s 26 players had quit.

Other articles:

LFL: 22 Toronto players quit, comments show league’s disarray (Yahoo Sports; Oct. 20, 2011)

Lingerie Football League in trouble? Mass walkout of Toronto Triumph players (NBC Sports; Oct. 20, 2011)

Ford, others quit lingerie league (Toronto Sun; Oct. 19, 2011)

At the Lingerie Football League Tryouts (Torontoist; May 2, 2011)

A disgruntled Lingerie Football League Player speaks out (NBC Sports; April 21, 2011)

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I always like your LFL posts because the admiration for the amazing look of these girls (including the wardrobe malfunctions you're giving a great coverage to) is combined with full respect and sympathy for them as people and as athletes.

PS: Thanks for citing my Very Specials Girls blog!