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Go ahead, rough the passer. Please!

Lingerie football, and the end of civilization as we know it

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If they want to just huddle for a while, that’s cool with us.

There is no doubt that lingerie football makes for a great beer commercial. Hot women, clad in little more than panties, knee pads and a hard protective shell of spray-on tan, flailing about the gridiron in a sexy full-contact pantomime of our favorite TV sport? What’s not to like … at least for 15 seconds or so? But if the prospect of gladiatorial catfighting is what compels you, there are plenty of adult websites that specialize in far more extreme displays of offensive holding and unsportsmanlike conduct. And if you’re a genuine football fan, how long will you stay interested in a contest where the athletes are chosen more for their appearance than for their abilities? Engineered for fans of mild mediocrity, lingerie football is easy to dismiss. Doing so, however, could have grave consequences for us all.

Introduced in 2004, the Lingerie Bowl started out as a 30-minute, $20 pay-per-view diversion during halftime on Super Bowl Sunday. This year, the Lingerie Bowl is evolving into the Lingerie Football League, and for the last several weeks, franchises in 10 cities around the country (inexplicably not including Las Vegas) have been holding tryouts for aspiring players, most of whom appear to be far more familiar with stripper poles than goal posts. The season starts in September.

In essence, of course, the Lingerie Football League (LFL) is a silicone-enhanced slap in the face to the WNBA, Women’s Professional Soccer and the numerous little-known organized women’s football leagues that have sprung up around the country over the last decade. Its message: Sure, we’ll watch women play sports. As long as they dress up like hookers in riot-cop garb and don’t take themselves too seriously.

As it turns out, however, the women who look best in lingerie tend to be professional lingerie models. And professional lingerie models might be the most competitive creatures on the planet. Sure, major-league sluggers shoot themselves full of steroids to get an edge on their rivals. NFL linebackers routinely play with broken bones and other serious injuries. But how many of them would endure the pain of Brazilian bikini waxes and anal bleaching? How many have surgically altered their bodies in pursuit of their craft?

Now lingerie models have a whole new domain in which to unleash their competitive spirit and commitment to excellence. They may not be great football players, but the intensity they bring to the game is immediately evident. On the runway, or the strip-club stage, or wherever else professional lingerie models ply their trade, their goal is to attract attention, to establish themselves as objects of desire. On the football field, however, they seem largely uninterested in the people watching them. Instead of playing to the crowd, they play against each other—in this instance, at least, the rush of competition is what compels them most.

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Lingerie Football League

In this epidemically exhibitionistic age, it’s rare to see any other desire trump the desire to be looked at. Ironically, this makes lingerie football extremely watchable, and that’s where the problems arise. Specifically, what happens when men start watching lingerie football as much as they watch football football? The former, of course, emphasizes its inherent eroticism. You are supposed to ogle those taut lingerie-model backsides encased in pink spandex. You are supposed to thrill to the notion of what’s happening at the bottom of that pile of sexy, half-naked women who, even with the assistance of referees, are having such a hard time disentangling themselves from each other. You don’t have to be Pavlov to see where this might lead. Habituated to view football as an intrinsically sexual phenomenon, men might suddenly start experiencing feelings for 350-pound linemen they never knew they had.

On the other hand, it’s not as if the homoerotic elements of football are particularly veiled. If you’re wired that way, you probably don’t need the ladies of the Los Angeles Temptation to help you see the uniquely intimate relationship a quarterback shares with his center in a new, sexy light. What those ladies might do, however, is de-eroticize lingerie. Indeed, their hot pink panties pack a potent charge now, but thanks to their heroic gridiron exploits, we’ll begin to associate them more with tough-nosed football than we do with sex. In time, lingerie will be no more exciting than a pair of sweat socks or shoulder pads. When women don skirted lace garter belts to entice their men, the men will automatically start thinking about beer, hot wings and hanging out with their buddies. Marriages will fail, our citizenry will stop reproducing. By the 22nd century, soccer-loving countries will finally rule the Earth.

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