For every progressive step the world takes towards gender equality and respect for women, some slick American comes along backed by his army of beer-swilling yobbos and drags us several decades back. When there are some quick greenbacks to be made, the only scruples you’ll find are the ones stomped into the dirt in the mad rush down that dark, dishonourable shortcut signposted: sex sells.
Every thread of the Lingerie Football concept (and there are intentionally very few) is offensive. I’m not talking on a prudish, ‘I-can-see-ankles’ moral level; but on the basis that this ‘sport’ fundamentally insults our intelligence. It doesn’t just degrade women, but every single fully-evolved human being by having the nerve to pretend to be anything but a shameless tool with which to pry open the wallets of horny, middle-aged, beer-gutted slobs. The fact that this is presented as some kind of legitimate sport, or entertainment in any sense, is embarrassing to us as a species. Equally embarrassing is the assumption that your typical sport enthusiast is the aforementioned couch-dwelling caveman.
I don’t even know where to begin. I think what pisses me off the most is the uniquely American arrogance of its conception. ‘Men like sport, men like boobs – so how can we make money off that? I know, let’s invent a phony sport with pretty women wearing as little as possible, fill a stadium with slow-motion cameras, paint it with beer adverts and pretend that anyone gives a prancing shit about the score. We’ll even toss in some interminably annoying American commentators for authenticity’. For crying out loud, even pro-wrestling admits that it’s just a one big, silly entertainment product packaged in bright spandex. It administers our dose of brainless guilty pleasures – some violence, physicality and melodrama all cast down in a big, loud shower of music, lights, spectacle and hand-puppets. It’s excellent.
Lingerie football though, is not. It spits on the very idea of sport by daring to classify itself as one. It belongs in the same category as pop music videos, news coverage of fashion shows and Nigella Lawson’s cooking programs; it’s sneaky porn, not sport.
And worst of all, the whole calling-itself-a-sport thing wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so appallingly condescending towards actual female athletes. The founder of Lingerie Football, Mitchell Mortaza, is a dickhead. He defends the franchise by saying this: “Women’s athletics have struggled. They have struggled forever to gain traction… you have to have a gimmick or a hook to bring fans in.”
Brilliant. Let’s help female athletes out by literally stripping them down to a sleazy gimmick. That will really get the proper, hardworking female athletes out there the respect they deserve. That’s like the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us standing before the board and telling them that the best way to turn around a poor sales quarter would be to rename the stores ‘Tits ‘R’ Us’ and take all the clothes off the Barbie dolls. It’s pathetic. The clue is right there in the name: Lingerie football. Not Women’s Football – lingerie football. No-one’s tuning in to see some well-executed third down short-pass screen plays.
What also grates me in particular about all this is that to me, sport is sport and I enjoy watching it – whether its lads or ladies on the field. In many ways I’m the assumed audience, so the existence of lingerie football only encourages the assumption that I drag my knuckles on the way to the lounge-room and grunt at the pretty girls on the screen from my bucket of chicken. That’s only half-true – I prefer a burger. But seriously, even so often, for instance, I’ll tune into a netball game – perhaps the most popular predominantly-female sport. I like it because it’s fast-paced, it’s tactical, it requires skill and agility and it will genuinely leave you teetering on the edge of your seat when the minutes dwindle in a close game. A true and exciting sport, in other words. Now, if one of the players did happen to draw my eye, it would be because she just stormed into space for an interception, flattening her opponent in the process, before bounce-passing brilliantly to the GS for a breakaway goal. If she happens to be a looker, that’s a welcome bonus, but not a reason to watch.
Excitement and drama is what it’s all about, not ogling lithe bodies and wedgies, willing on all the nipples to pop out. When I want that, I’ll watch So You Think You Dance. When I want to watch sport, I’ll watch sport. And when I want to watch evidence of crimes against human intelligence, I’ll tune in for some Lingerie Football.