Monday, February 25, 2013
Legends Football League Sexed-Down Ahead Of Australian Launch
By Kristin Shorten
The frills, bows, garters and chokers have been banished ahead of the Lingerie Football League's debut Down Under in a bid to attract better broadcasters, sophisticated sponsors and credibility.
But fans and players are bummed the risqué uniforms are being shunned for something a beach volleyball player might wear as the sport rebrands to Legends Football League.
The new uniforms - while still skimpy - will be streamlined in an effort to shift the focus from the babes to their ball-skills.
Fans have mocked the changes, saying that if the LFL was serious about sport it would cover its players up completely.
Meanwhile commentators in the US say this spells the end for the sport's franchise, claiming most people went to see the outfits rather than the actual game.
LFL founder Mitchell Mortaza, who arrives in Australia this week for team trials, said the rebranding was about empowering players.
"There are no longer garters, there are no longer chokers, there are no straps on the shorts, and you won't see the lace on uniforms," he said.
"We've taken away any sexy female figures in and around the branding as far as the logo's concerned.
"We've also done away with the tag line."
It has changed from "True Fantasy Football" to "Women of the Gridiron".
Johanna Theobald, who plays tight end, said she was initially disappointed by the conservative approach.
"We all liked Lingerie Football … but it's still called LFL and I think it will always have that image of chicks playing football while not wearing very much," she said.
"I was definitely attracted by the (original) uniform because you still got to be an athlete but the uniform was awesome.
"But it's really not that big of a change. It's just less like lingerie now and more athletic."
The league's rebranding has also seen Australia swap America's overtly sexual team names such as Philadelphia Passion, Las Vegas Sin, Los Angeles Temptation and Chicago Bliss for Queensland Brigade, New South Wales Surge, Western Australia Angels and Victoria Maidens.
But Brigade assistant coach Regan Webb still reckons they will attract bigger crowds than you see at some A-league soccer matches.
"(We expect) up to 10,000 … I'd be happy if we had 5000 along," he said.
"Our team's got from uni students through to defence force personnel, professional sportswomen, police officers and mothers.
"I don't think anyone tried out just so they could wear frilly knickers."
The Queensland team's uniform will be the first to be unveiled this Saturday.
Webb said changing the uniform was a risk but one he thinks will pay off.
"It was originally a half-time gimmick. Mitch teamed up with Hugh Heffner and had the playmates dress up and pretend to play football," he said.
"Then he turned it into actually playing league and drew sports-specific athletes.
"Mitch could probably stand to make millions if he kept the girls in lingerie but they would never be taken seriously and would probably reach saturation on their fan base.
"It's a risk (to rebrand) but he's pretty smart where he's got himself so far so he must know what he's doing."
Australian state trials kick off in Brisbane this weekend.
"We're looking for athleticism and coachability. The rest we can teach as long as they're comfortable with it," Webb said.
"The first season is just a contract to play - costs are covered but there's no remuneration.
"Girls want to raise their public profile and they see this as a perfect way to do it."