Lingerie-clad college girls in a pillow fight is the cliché guy’s fantasy. For men across the country, the fantasy is now reality…on the football field. Girls, leave your pillows at home—this league isn’t your Powder Puff team.
Originally aired in 2003 as a Pay-Per-View alternative to the Super Bowl’s half-time show, the Lingerie Football League (LFL) expanded to 10 teams last fall. Women, ages 21 to 35, battle in high-intensity, full-contact games while wearing sexy uniforms and minimal padding.
“We’re playing the sport just like it’s supposed to be played with little-to-no clothes,” said Riley Maddex, a junior at Antelope Valley College and running back/wide receiver for the Los Angeles Temptations. “We’re risking a lot and girls suffer the same injuries the NFL has.”
Maddex joined the LFL in 2007 after rigorous try-outs of agility and technique drills, but the league focuses on overall athletic ability. “A lot of girls on our team never even touched a football. They look for your potential and what they can teach you,” Maddex said.
“It’s not only about being beautiful and sexy,” said teammate, center Natalie Jahnke, a junior at University of La Verne. “It’s about being an athlete too.”
Their head coach, David Bizub, looks for girls with brains, brawn and beauty. “Anyone who comes to our games will find out very quickly, it’s not just about beauty. Our girls go out there and put on a good show,” Bizub said. “The girls hit hard and they get physical and that’s what guys want to see, that’s what our fans want to see.”
Dan McGarigal, a Rollins College sophomore, is as passionate about the LFL as the NFL. “Girls playing just makes it even better,” he said. “They endure more pain and take harder hits, with less pads. In turn it makes them as tough, if not tougher, than [the] men.”
Not everyone is as impressed. James Rossini from the University of Tampa, is only a fan of the barely-there uniforms. “They wear lingerie, which forces a feminine sex-toy-like feel to the game,” Rossini said.
Kaitlyn Podlovits, a Roanoke College freshman, shares those feelings. “The fact that women are playing in lingerie and have a requirement to be beautiful and have sex appeal to become an athlete lives up to the stereotype,” she said.
Podlovits plays intramural flag football at school, but she’d be more interested in the LFL if they covered up. “I know for sure my Italian, Roman Catholic, conservative family would not approve,” she said.
Bizub defends the league’s attire as a “different form of entertainment.” “What obviously helps bring in fans is the outfits,” he explained. “I would hope people keep coming back because of the play we have, not strictly for the uniforms.”
Jahnke endures criticism, mostly from women. “It’s not sexist, it’s sexy. Look at professional volleyball players: they are wearing nothing but they are exerting all their force and energy into something they love.” Signed on for another year, she describes the LFL as a tight-knit family.
“It’s even stronger than a sisterhood,” Jahnke said. “You would lay down your life for someone else. You would take a hit for someone else.”