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.
What better way to say: ‘I love you’, than to actually say: ‘Hold tight honey, as I run through this pit of mud with you clinging upside-down on my back…’? Well, trust those ever-romantic Finns to take a break from being amazing rally drivers and eating reindeer and host the annual ‘wife-carrying’ race in Sonkajarvi. The rules are simple. A man must complete the obstacle course in the fastest time possible, while his wife (or his neighbour’s) clings on to his shoulders, usually upside-down (aka the ‘Estonian carry’). The wife must be at least 49kg, otherwise she must then carry a weight-filled sack. The overall champions are the couple who cross the line in the fastest time, and are awarded with what is possibly the greatest prize any sport can offer – the wife’s weight in beer. Bottom’s up!
The International Federation of Competitive Eating (headquarters: New York City, USA), hands out the coveted mustard-yellow belt to whoever can take the concept of gluttony to stomach-punishing new heights. Food-scoffing competitions, held around the world (mostly the US and Japan), pit several competitors (eaters) against a pile of food – usually hamburgers, pies, hot dogs or pizza, a time limit and each other. Basically: eat more food, faster. As a ‘sport,’ there are obviously rules and tactics that govern the state of play. Some eaters adopt the ‘chipmunk’ technique, stuffing as much food into the mouth first and then working it down, second. Others will ‘dunk’ (dip foodstuff into liquid) before eating, but only when ‘picnic-style’ rules are in play. Vomiting, or ‘reversal’, is strictly forbidden and excessive table debris will see points deducted. When the final buzzer sounds, whoever has forced the most food down their gullet is the winner. Simple. And, if you’re wondering, Timothy Janus ate 6.3kg of chilli spaghetti in 10 minutes. That deserves a spot in the Pantheon.
Bo-Taoshi (aka Japanese pole pull-down)
This could perhaps be the greatest sport ever. Bo-Taoshi is an obscure Japanese practice that is part-military exercise, part-sport and a whole lot of crazy. Two teams of 75 (seventy-five!) compete, one attacking, one defending. The defending team are to protect a large pole and keep it upright, while the attacking team attempt to being the pole down, to at least a 30-degree angle. The ensuing spectacle is chaotic, loud and immensely entertaining. Dozens of attackers fling themselves at the defensive throng, showing utter disregard for their personal safety, while defenders scramble about punching, kicking, shoving and tearing clothes in an effort to repel the kamikaze attacks from the other team. Once it’s all said and done, those still alive all then turn and raise their hands and seemingly praise the pole. It’s just a few digitally-enhanced abs away from being an epic ancient battle film.
Cardboard Tube Fighting
Who hasn’t taken the long cardboard roll left from a poster and felt the insatiable urge to hit somebody with it? Well, thankfully a Seattle man by the name of Robert Easley founded the Cardboard Tube Fighting League, which governs and hosts formalised battles where participants live and die by the rolled-up cardboard sword. The basic objective is to break your opponent’s tube before they break yours, and competition takes place in two forms: duelling tournaments, where combatants square-off in a mano-e-mano swordplay contest; and full-scale battles, which are essentially orgies of wild, flailing cardboard violence. Those who prove themselves most valiant on the battlefield are rewarded with the prized ‘Legendary Cardboard Tubes’, namely: Thor’s Hammer, d’Artagnan’s Sabre, Heaven’s Will, and the mighty Suffusca Mors. Toilet-roll daggers are forbidden in contest.
Synchronised swimming is another one of those sports better categorised as ‘performance art.’ Or better yet, ‘performance art with creepy smiles.’ A team of a dozen or so, clad in sparkly onesies and nose plugs, perform a choreographed aquatic dance routine and score points based on style, timing and synchronisation. That’s what it says on the packet. In reality, it’s a splashy mess of flailing legs and incredibly unnerving grinning faces emerging from the depths.
Long distance running is lung-bustlingly torturous enough, so there must be a special spot reserved in Hell for the evil mastermind who thought of adding some hurdles and a giant puddle to the equation – for no other reason than to try and befall the exhausted. Actually, steeplechase races originated from British county races, where runners ran from one village’s steeple (church) to the next, contending with the various streams and small stone fences in-between. Why it was converted into an official athletics discipline is a mystery, however. There was even some thought put into the design of the water-pit, which is sloped like a ramp to reward those who can jump further and therefore not get slowed down by deeper water. The water pit also provides extra motivation for those competitors wearing suede shoes.
What happens when a Belgian man drinks too much sangria on holiday in Spain? He formulates a game that involves trampolines, jumping castles, volleyball and Brazilian dance-based martial arts, and calls it Bossaball, derr. This rather flamboyant sport is best described as beach volleyball played on a giant inflatable bed… with a couple of trampolines in the middle. The rules are almost identical to volleyball; two teams of up to five players bat the ball about over a net and try to get the ball to land in their opponent’s side of the court. The main difference is the presence of a trampoline on either side that gives rise (hehe) to ridiculous, gravity-disregarding spikes and smashes of the ball. Players can touch the ball with any part of their body, and judging by photos found online, the more time spent upside-down, the better.
Originating from Switzerland, Hornussen is said to be a little like golf, a little like tee-ball and a little like a poorly-organised protest demonstration. The sport, created by bored Swiss farmers in the 17th century, is played between two teams of up to 18 players over a large field. A player from one team will belt a little, rubber puck off a ramp using a scarily flexible, fishing rod-esque stick with a small mallet attached at the end. The puck – called the ‘hornuss’ (after the hornet-like sound it makes as it whips through the air) is then launched at speeds of up to 300 kph down the field where the other team await, scattered over the field donning helmets and square placards on sticks. In order to stop the hornuss-launcher from scoring points, they are to knock the projectile from the air, theoretically with the placards, but often with their faces, chests, backs, necks or other tender fleshy parts of the body. The tiny hornuss is hard to spot as it tears through the air, meaning many of the paddle-wavers simply throw their placard up and flee in terror.