Super Bowl Sunday: American football is worse for you than going to see the Will Smith produced remake of the Karate Kid. (Guest Post #3)

Meet Davetavius, everyone, otherwise known as Mr. Nine Deuce. We talk about football A LOT, and he, as the world’s foremost hater of University of Alabama football and the NFL in general, has some things to say about the subject:

This is a strange blog for me to write as it’s the first blog I’ve written that 1) is a bit redundant (in terms that’ll it’ll invoke past subject matter specifically), 2) isn’t exactly what  I want to write about (as the retardedness of sports-culture has been well documented already here -– and I’d intended to move on towards more actually substantial material), and 3) is influenced by some degree of personal pressure.

My Alabama football blog got a lot of attention.  It got a lot of hits (for an egotistical “Let me tell you what the fuck is going down” blog), spurred some dialogue amongst the non-converted, and also managed to offend large portions of my family who stumbled upon it even though I had no intention of being anything other than an anonymous dick-headed purveyor of social criticism/faux avant-garde arrogance/passe uber-snarkism.

The simple fact is that I’d always wanted to write about University of Alabama college football.  It’d just always been such a striking phenomenon to me.  Here’s this state with so many deep complex problems incurred by the history of its Southern/geographically rural reality, so isolated from mainstream American intellectual dialogue/media exposure, so associatively rich with the quintessentially American traits of independence and rebelliousness, yet so tame, trite, and conformist in what its inhabitants chose to rally around as an expression of solidarity/identity.  The actuality of the phenomenon was spelled out loud and clear in my University of Alabama blog:  Alabamians aren’t so much enthralled with University of Alabama football as much as they want to establish a universal sense of pride amongst themselves in a way every one of its citizens can grasp and identify with.  Living in a nation where your regional history, existence, and substance is generally derided, ignored, or scoffed at generates a desire to establish a presence in which you feel like you can be recognized — and given the reality of the state of Alabama’s circumstances, it’s no real surprise that it chose to flex its collective voice through a medium through which it felt it couldn’t be ignored: nationally competitive popular sports; the political realities/complexities are generally ignored and –in the case of college football– the path to success isn’t limited so much by rules as by a desire to succeed.  My problem with University of Alabama football lies in the over-commitment of the state’s citizenry to such an essentially useless medium of self-identification.  Culture in the state of Alabama has developed around a desire to succeed in something that’s been nationally ordained as a symbol of American success, but that is essentially worthless.  So in a desire to cultivate pride, Alabama has essentially acquired for itself the reputation as being the state that cares the most about meaninglessness, which belies the inherent spirit of its inhabitants.  I could care less about college football (in fact I loathe it), but I’ve always been something of an Auburn fan simply because I know that being a fan of Auburn collegiate football in the state of Alabama is a symbol that you believe there’s more out there. And there is more out there, and while no other component of the  reality we know is as nefarious and misguided as University of Alabama college football (except for the Coen brothers’ film No Country for Old Men) …  the problem has very little to do with the citizenry of Alabama, and much more to do with American football’s influence and history in America.

The origin of American football was a strange morphing of rugby (a comparatively fluid — albeit equally boring — English game) and jingoistic ideas about America’s status as a violent, dominant, imperialistic power.  The first collegiate football games were essentially rugby games, but gradually became brutal manifestations of violence that Theodore Roosevelt was so mortified by (as any compassionate elephant hunter would be) that he introduced legislation via presidential mandate to illegalize the game entirely due to a garish number of fatalities and injuries in the early 20th century.  Threatened by such a real, governmental attempt to banish its very existence, football enacted certain rules that “cleaned up” the game in terms of violent egregiousness, but that turned the game into a less of an “anything goes fight to move the ball forward” into a more sanitized, stagnant war simulation.  The game inherited  the strange phenomena of “the line of scrimmage” and four “downs” (attempts)  to move the ball forward 10 yards, with each successful movement of the ball 10 yards or more over 4 downs resetting the cycle, with a game-clock from which each increment of “battle” would be subtracted from the total amount of game to be played (confusing and off-putting I know — I’ll get to that).  Thus — instead of a blatantly violent, essentially lawless melee — the sport became more of a strategic equivalent to legal war:  under the rules allowed by the laws of the game, the team which functioned most effectively would be the winner.  This proved to be enough of a deft move to  keep the fans of the original barbaric game engaged, appeal to the growing American nationalism of the day, and win even more fans as it was less obviously unseemly.  It was from here that football established itself as kind of a grassroots manifestation of American conquering pride.  Other countries played games… we played wars.

With the sport of football so lacking in the traditional fluidity, grace, artfulness, and skill associated with most other popular world sports at the time,  the appeal of the sport seemed to be limited to a certain breed of aggressive, dumb men.   But in the 1960’s the NFL capitalized on the sport’s prior appeal of violent, obedient, calculated domination by positioning itself to not only take advantage of the dawn of television as a  juggernaut, but also to shrewdly utilize  its lack of history/malleability as a game to morph its product — by rule change and amendment — into a desirable television/advertising product first and foremost.  With the possible exception of basketball, most popular world sports exist as sports in which television must operate around the parameters of the game:  the construction and tradition of the sport being created as a participatory endeavor first, essentially creates a situation where television has to work around the game to function effectively.  Some examples are: 1) In tennis, the commercials occur at tasteful breaks between games and sets, 2) in baseball, between innings, 3) in soccer, at half-time and within camera view during matches, etc.  American football is perhaps the only game on record to exist as an intentional devolution as sporting phenomenon and evolution as business/marketing idea. People rarely “play” football outside of socially loaded organizational paradigms involving a need to “obey and achieve,” and when they do it turns into a confusing amalgamation of something entirely different: kids don’t play backyard football anymore (because they’re smart enough to know there’re a billion better things to do with their time) , but when I was a kid we did… by improvisationally turning the game into something we could understand.  This was no mean feat:  professional football commentators/coaches/players/referees are frequently at a loss to explain where the game stands during a given competition because the list of rules is such a staggering combination of opacity and abundance that it’s completely acceptable for all of them to have to take breaks during games to confer and figure out what the hell is even going on.  This is a key point:  in other sports the question is about whether an infraction of the rules occurred.  Was the ball out of the play boundaries, was a foul committed by/on a player?  In American professional football, there are usually several instances per contest where no one but the referees are even  remotely confident of the legality of a play.  Are you a football fan?  Quick, what are “too many men in motion,” what is “illegal procedure,” what is an “illegal formation”?  No Wikipedia-ing allowed.  Why is football the national pastime when 99.999% of it’s followers aren’t even sure what’s going on?  Because the interest in football isn’t as a sport, but as a vessel of American consumerism and pride expressing itself through a paradigm of conformity.  The business genius the NFL realized when it began its relationship with television in the 1960’s was that nobody really cared about the sport of American football, they just cared about “rocking ass American style,” and the NFL used TV to give them what they wanted.  The uniforms were sensational — making the game’s players seem less like athletes and more like gaudy, super-heroic, violent astronauts.  The game had become perfectly suited for commercial breaks (and devolved itself into allowing more and more “official opportunities” to take them), with so many breaks in action (the average televised football game lasts 215 minutes with an average of 11 minutes of actual game activity), that a football game wasn’t very identifiable as a sporting event, but was in fact a hodge-podge of television production.  This was the key to football’s explosion in popularity during the mid 60’s and 70’s.  “You don’t like sports?  Well you don’t have to like sports to like football, because it’s not really a sport: It’s a show.”  There’s nothing essentially wrong with this superficially.  Why someone would arbitrarily decide to attach passion and commitment to meaningless games involving balls and rules is rooted in luxurious entertainment at best and willful ignorance at worst, but if there is a value in sport it’s in its ability to showcase pure competitive drama.  Every sports contest isn’t entertaining, but most do have the potential to be captivating: simply because at best, sports are a medium of showcasing human skill and creativity in a dramatic setting that is by rule uncontrived.  American football became the opposite of this.  “Don’t know what’s going on?  It doesn’t matter, here’s a promotion for NBC’s new sit-com.  Still don’t care? Wait until half-time when we’ll have interviews with the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard.  Still don’t care?  Give us a minute and we’ll have dumb beer commercials with nearly-naked, sexually available, mentally vacant women.”  In becoming a vehicle for entertainment rather than sport, American football became wildly successful by combining its appeal to aggressive American nationalism with an ability to become a pure medium for capitalist entertainment.  The effect on America has been dreary.

My Alabama football blog explored the worst case scenario effect of American football on a mostly rural level.  College football  is — by and large —  a game of rural America whose appeal to participants and supporters is to establish for themselves a nationally heard voice for their area.  I grew up mostly in the South.  The first SEC football game I went to was not only spectacular, but also the first time I ever saw national media in the same place I was.  When you think about how many people have experiences like this, it’s easy to see why college football is such a huge deal in rural areas.  When I was a kid, attending my first SEC football game in the most spectacular setting I’d ever been in with television cameras everywhere, my first reaction wasn’t to question the social health of what was going on, but to think: “This is  definitely the raddest shit I’ve ever seen in Starkville, Mississippi.”  College football is most of rural America’s connection to the rest of America, its identity as it were.  And this identity expands outward.  In most rural societies high school football is a big deal.  My little league football team was a waaay bigger deal than it should have been.  Going to football games becomes the family highlight of the week. Little girls want to become cheerleaders.  Little boys want to play football.  A few goth kids hang out at Denny’s and are called faggots.  This is rural America.  I’m not entirely stoked about it, but I understand.

What’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to understand however is the NFL’s stranglehold on America’s collective conscience.  The NFL’s marketing brilliance/shamelessness has been documented here and elsewhere, but what I don’t think I’ve ever read is the effect the NFL’s diet of pure consumerism is currently having/has had on America’s citizenry.  I don’t think there’s another entity that’s as destructive to the intellectual fabric of America.  Think about it: 1)  a sport based upon the fundamental tenets of violent, obedient, legal, physical domination is the sport of the nation even though the nation itself doesn’t entirely understand the rules of “their sport”, 2)  it’s perhaps the leader in American  propagation of misogyny as the only place for women in the sport is to exist as shiny, supportive, sex-objects, 3) it has become America’s dominant television entity by essentially offering 1 part contrived base elements of cliched-machismo with 10 parts stupid advertising.  This is America’s game.  Guess what this creates?

This is a really obvious example, but it’s perfect (it’s not like the NFL does anything that isn’t obvious).  This sums up about 99% of the NFL.  That stupid fucking commercial ran for years, with like, 10 different incarnations.  ESPN played a special updated segment of it once a week with the lyrics changed to coincide with whatever had happened in the NFL that week, the only thing remaining constant being the stupidity and misogyny.  Rural America might be aligning itself a bit unhealthily with a sport in search of community and identity, but the NFL is making the majority of the men everywhere in America completely retarded. And the effects reverberate through society.  My favorite example of this reverberation is on plane rides.  There are three types of people on plane rides: 1) those that want you to leave them the fuck alone, 2) those that want to talk to you about the NFL, and 3) those that wouldn’t mind talking to you but are afraid you’re just going to talk about the NFL.  It goes like this:  businessmen on flights are the loudest, most major airport cities have NFL teams, and the businessmen think the best way they can break the ice with you before they tell you about how responsible they are for their company’s “unit growth” is to talk about the NFL.  It’s real fucking lame.  They all speak in what my wife calls “the NFL accent,” that loud, blowhardedly presumptuous, arrogantly overconfident voice that’s frequently punctuated with self-satisfied fake laughter.  All businessmen on airplanes have the NFL accent — unless they own the plane — but the NFL accent and the NFL are everywhere.  The sweet part is that the rest of us have to deal with it.

I used to work at a bar outside of Atlanta that did 30% of its business on Sundays because all the NFL games were on different televisions and it stayed full from open to close with NFL fans.  They were nearly all the same people.  They had good enough jobs to enjoy themselves on Sunday but weren’t necessarily happy or financially secure.  They’d all moved from somewhere else because they’d heard Atlanta was a good place for jobs.  They’d come to this sports bar to watch their NFL team to support the team they’d grown up with, and be around some other people they might talk to but rarely did.  There were plenty of women there — obviously fulfilling roles as “cool wives/girlfriends” — and they seemed to be just about as into it as the men, which wasn’t much.  There were a few very loud, clownishly obnoxious men, whose ridiculousness was the only consistently entertaining feature of those Sundays.  It was the same all year round.  Every Sunday was exactly the same.  Even the playoffs were the same.  A kind of grimly depressing surrender to what they thought was supposed to be the best thing to do that day, even though it was mostly just a sad spectacle punctuated by various levels of intoxication.

But Super Bowl Sunday was different.  All the TV’s were on one game.  The volume of the game boomed over every inch of the bar.  There was excitement over the game and whatever manufactured drama had been created by the media.  Everybody talked about how they thought the half-time show would go, and discussed their opinions on Bruce Springsteen or Jessica Simpson or whoever the hell was  supposed to go on.  Excitement brimmed over the commercials as the Super Bowl has the most expensive commercials on Earth, and NFL fans are into expensive commercials like Radiohead fans are into fashionable hats.  When the game started, oohs and ahs sounded in unison.  Laughter arose throughout the bar during every dumb gag during every hackneyed commercial.  The loud buffoons were there, but instead of taking the edge off the dreariness, they actually made everyone happy.  The half-time show offered the “cool wives/girlfriends” an opportunity to voice whatever opinions they had on mass popular culture/music as the men got drunker.  I remember that no one wanted half-time to end.  No one would openly admit that they didn’t care about the game, but when the second half started, there was a tangible feeling of decline, kind of like the moment on Christmas day when all the presents are open, and the only thing left to do is play with what you’ve got.  The game winded down as did the mood of the bar.  People were still happy it was Super Bowl Sunday, but knew the end was near.  The game ended and the very drunk stayed and the not so drunk left, much the same as any Sunday, but I remembered how happy everyone in the bar had been.  It struck me that all these people just wanted to connect with something, and that for some reason they’d gotten it in their minds that that thing was supposed to be the NFL.  I didn’t know, nor did they, what they would do until the next football season.  Sure they’d follow the ridiculous things NFL fans keep track of during the off-season like the draft, player-signings, etc., but what they really wanted wasn’t football but a connection to something.  It was truly tragic.  I thought of college football fans’ passion stemming from regional pride and began to see more vividly than I had ever seen before that these people’s devotion to the NFL had instilled in them an emptiness they didn’t understand.  They wanted to be a part of something bigger, but had instead just become voids, trained culturally to accept advertising in the stead of meaningfulness.

The insidiousness of American football really dawned on me.  From the black Americans that associate it with success and an America they have a part in despite the marginalizing effects it has on black America at large,  from the many women that are expected to tolerate its misogyny as a part of standard American culture,  from the homosexuals who find in football’s every manifestation a sentiment of livid homophobia, from the boys and girls that grow up in rural areas thinking football’s their connection to the rest of America,  from the innocent television viewers that think football’s the heart and pride of America, and from the throngs of the slightly askew for which football’s conformist hegemony of homogeneity establishes a de facto existence of ridicule, American football has negatively affected the lives of the overwhelming majority of its citizens.  It’s Super Bowl Sunday today.  Start the rebuilding process and watch the Karate Kid Part III instead.  Let the healing begin.

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Super Bowl Sunday: I love football more than I love my mother. (Guest Post #2)

Meet my friend David, everyone. Because he generally writes about baseball, and because I have more than one friend named David who goes by David rather than Dave, I call him “Baseball David,” but he’s here today to write about football and his own experiences as a Washington Redskins fan. I’ve learned at least one new thing from reading this post: the Redskins are the DC — not the Washington state — NFL team, which makes so little sense that I’m going to spend the next hour or so saying, “What the fuck?” out loud. I mean, as racist as naming a team the Redskins is, at least there are some Native Americans in Washington state. Anyway, enough about me. Here’s Baseball David in his cameo on the ‘chine as Football David:

I almost stopped talking to my mother because of a football game a few years ago.

I think we’ve usually had a pretty good relationship, not super close, but we’ve always been good. Growing up, though, for reasons unclear to me now, football was always very important — specifically the Washington Redskins.

One of my earliest memories is of being dropped off at Montessori school in the fall of 1983 and being pissed off a) that the Redskins had lost on Monday Night Football the night before, and b) that I hadn’t been allowed to stay up and watch a game that started at 9 pm.  At the end of that season, I cried when my 14-2 Redskins who won the previous Super Bowl got their ass kicked by the L.A. Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.

The first time I remember hearing the word bullshit was a few years later with my grandfather, and over 50,000 people were chanting it because the ref took away a touchdown from Darrell Green.  I suppose that’s one of the things I liked about football — I could be part of a group of thousands with one common desire and a socially acceptable place to chant obscenities when anything went against what we wanted.

Growing up, there were probably five videos I watched constantly.  Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the 1982 NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, and Super Bowl XVII — the first one the Redskins won, beating the Miami Dolphins.  I was probably 12 before I realized the Nazis had been real and weren’t made up like Darth Vader and his stormtroopers.  Right up there with the evil empire and the Nazis were the Dallas Cowboys.

Why are the Cowboys so evil? Texas and Washington, D.C. don’t have much of a geographical rivalry, so maybe it was just the Cowboys and Indians thing.  (There was an episode of Quantum Leap in which Sam’s Native American grandfather always rooted for the Redskins because of that.)  For about 15 years, the Redskins and Cowboys were also the two best teams in their division, and played each other twice every season — so it was probably mainly started in the early 70’s by Redskins coach George Allen (one of his kids became a Republican Senator and Governor from Virginia, another one just got hired to be the Redskins General Manager).  The Cowboys were proclaimed “America’s Team” and had a national following.  Redskins fans seemed limited to the DC area, but still more diverse — the mostly black residents of the city uniting with rich politicians and lobbyists and suburbanites (all chanting bullshit).

The Redskins also used to do a celebration after touchdowns, called the Fun Bunch.  Basically just guys getting in a circle and jumping up to do a high five.  They did that once in Dallas, and the Cowboy players broke it up — and after that the NFL banned on-field celebrations.

Whatever.  The Redskins were amazingly good — until I finished middle school.  When I was in the 8th grade, they won their third Super Bowl in ten years.  Since then they’ve basically sucked — maybe made the playoffs four times in 18 years, had losing records for more than half those years.  Through college, I would still watch every second of all 16 games every year.  But I gradually felt like they would constantly only play well enough to get my hopes up — and then immediately piss all over them.

Once I moved to New York, I watched fewer games.  If they were playing okay, I would sit in a bar for three hours watching a game, having 4 or 5 beers and trying not to yell at the TV.  Once the season seemed lost though, I only cared about one thing — just beat the damn Cowboys.

There was a long stretch though where the Redskins lost like a dozen straight games to the Cowboys.  One of those, I was watching at my mom’s house and the Redskins were winning for like the whole game, and it seemed like finally they would win one.  But then, as they often do, none of the Redskins wanted to tackle and with less than a minute left the Cowboys got a long pass and a touchdown and beat us.

And then my mom said, “I’m glad the Redskins lost.”

It’s not like at that point, with me probably in my mid-20’s, that I didn’t realize I was a complete asshole for caring about who wins a stupid football game.  But knowing that I’m stupid for feeling what I feel, somehow doesn’t make me not feel it.  Plus, who was the one buying me the Redskins Zubaz pants and matching Zubaz hat, the Starter jacket, the Redskins socks?  Who let me go out in public wearing dozens of pieces of Redskins clothing on any given Sunday? If she had a problem with me getting upset over football, maybe she should have said something earlier instead of just hoping I would grow out of it.

I think I was huffy for like an hour and then she apologized.  But basically that’s my relationship with football and most sports.  I still have an asinine ability to get emotionally invested and super happy or super bummed on the outcome of a game.  Even though Nine Deuce once told me I wasn’t an asshole and that she’d want to set me up with one of her friends.  I’m pretty sure she was even sober when she said that. (But sorry ladies, I’m taken.)

Still, when I’m not writing for sports humor websites, I try to keep my interest in sports on the down low.  I mean, I’ll still get to a game once in a while, but I try to pepper my outbursts with irony.  Here are my favorite things to shout that you might want to try as you watch the Super Bowl:

Someone on your team is running with the ball: “Run… Run very fast!”
After good plays: “Proper!” or “That’s very attractive!”

David Chalk writes for a lot of sports websites.
Bugs&Cranks | 7th Inning Stache | SportsUntapped | Big League Stew | NESW Sports
And he tweets. (@dichalk)

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Super Bowl Sunday: Quit being a bitch. The game’s on! (Guest Post #1)

Meet my friend LJS, everyone. I might have made it through my entire life without knowing of the existence of the Lingerie Football League were it not for her. I could be mad at her for that, but I’m not because her description of the LFL, along with some conversations I’ve had with others about football over the past few months, led me to the decision to do this whole Super Bowl feature in the first place. And the thousand-mile journey to the amelioration of football’s negative effects on women and society begins with one  football mega-feature on a radical feminist blog. Naturally, I asked LJS to write about the LFL and her view of sports culture:

If you are anything like me, there is nothing more exciting than the thrill of the football season’s first kick-off.  It signals the beginning of 17 weeks of Sundays filled with sweaty men playing a game that I not only have no control over, but didn’t contribute to in any way.  Which doesn’t stop me from yelling like I’ve won the lottery every time “my team” scores and referring to them as “we.”  And of course there is the anticipation of the camera pan to the scantily clad cheerleaders smiling brightly like a shiny row of botched lobotomy victims.  But I sometimes find myself thinking, as I am sure that we all have from time to time, “You know, this game is pretty good, but like I like my beer cold, my pork barbequed, and my chips with dip — I like my women objectified.”  I mean REALLY objectified.  Sure you have your cheerleaders jumping around in bikini tops and micro-minis in between snow flurries, and sure you have your beer commercials that cater to a 15-year-old male fantasy, but that just doesn’t take it far enough for my tastes.  What if we replaced the players with the cheerleaders?  Then we could dress them in bikinis to play a contact sport, because clearly their “safety” isn’t a top priority, and give the teams names like the San Diego Seduction, the Philadelphia Passion, and the Los Angles Temptation.  Blatant and unapologetic degradation of the players would ensue.  I mean, c’mon, you women knew what you were getting into when you were born with vaginas, right?

Fortunately for everyone out there that was nodding their head at the very thought of a football league of cheerleaders, Mitch Mortaza had an idea.  Think of him as Joe Francis, founder of Girls Gone Wild, mixed with that sleazy older uncle that always used to leer at you getting out of the swimming pool.  A winning combo, I know. Ol’ Mitch is the founder of the Lingerie Football League (LFL), which is now ending its 2nd season. And yes, it is exactly as described above.

Mortaza and the LFL make no apologies.  In fact, during a recent try-out session that was chronicled by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s John Gonzalez, Mortaza eloquently explained what he is looking for in a LFL player:

The women of the LFL need three things… confidence, athleticism and, finally, they have to be gorgeous. We’re not looking for the best athletes. We want our league to have women like Anna Kournikova, Danica Patrick and Gabby Reece. They’re not the best at what they do, but they’re the most marketable. We know why men turn out.

A trip to the LFL’s official site backs up Mortaza’s statement.  The site’s content is flanked on either side by black and white pictures of two women dressed in their underwear and covered with dirt.  The woman on the right looks into the camera seductively, while the woman on the left actually has her face cut off by the edge of the webpage.  I think that is a kind of unintentional statement about the league’s overall attitude toward its players and women in general.  A half-hearted effort to “get to know” the players on the official LFL blog, LFL Unlaced (Get it? It’s a pun, right? UN-laced? Haha! The fun never stops), is another thinly veiled chance to show more pictures of the women in their underwear.  And some of it doesn’t even make sense. Okay, a picture of the player in her “uniform” I could see, or maybe even enjoying a day at the beach in her favorite G-string, but the editors at “Unlaced” are hardcore, they don’t give a fuck. A rousing expose on Chicago Bliss’s Danielle Moinet has a lead-in picture of Danielle (presumably) in a lace bra and underwear set with some black lace Madonna gloves, circa 1984, followed by a picture of her in a red bikini standing in front of what I can only assume is the industrial garage door of a commercial loading dock. Scrolling down, I kept expecting a list of her “turn-ons” (long walks on the beach, men who fart in public, and Miller High Life) followed by a pictorial of her favorite sex positions.

So who is Mitch Mortaza? Not surprisingly he started his career of douche-baggery on the low-budget reality show Blind Date.  His segment gets off to a stirring start when he lists toe rings among his turn-ons and refers to himself as a “white shark in captivity” when it comes to his dating style.  I won’t go into too much detail (you can watch it on YouTube if you need to induce vomiting), but he is exactly what you would expect from the founder of the Lingerie Football League, dayglo tan and all. Unfortunately for everyone, except maybe the poor women on Blind Date, Mortaza moved from reality dating shows to founding the yearly Lingerie Bowl that ran during half-time of the Super Bowl for the first time in 2004. Mortaza claims that he was inspired by watching all the people leave their seats during half-time at a Super Bowl game he attended and wondered if he could capture that audience somehow.  However, my bet is that it had more to do with his copy of Chicks with Balls that didn’t leave his DVD player for all of 2001 and the first half of 2002. Either way, the Lingerie Bowl got corporate backing (I’m looking at you,, and Horizon Productions) and became a relatively huge success. The popularity of the Lingerie Bowl was the spark for the woman-hating brushfire that became the LFL.

Okay, so what is the point, right? I mean, anyone with any kind of capacity for introspection, empathy, or sense of humanity can see that Mortaza is a piece of shit and the LFL is a ridiculous mockery of the personhood of women.  When I first heard of it I thought that same thing. However, after some thought, further research, and personal observation my perspective started to change.

The LFL, to me, is the culmination of privilege that surrounds men and their sports. It is not unusual for men to make disgusting and degrading comments about the women on screen while hanging out with their buddies watching their favorite football team, and often it is in front of their wives/partners/children.  But because it is in the arena of “sports” it is somehow protected.  Saying anything about it results in being labeled a “nag” or a “bitch” that is “bringing down their man time.”  Men often feel that they have a “right” to dehumanize and degrade women as long as it is in the confines of their “guy time” and that the women in their lives should have to not only be okay with it, but laugh it off while serving their buddies sammiches.  The only thing missing from the picture is the string of pearls, the 1950s haircut, and a box of Betty Crocker cake mix.  The men I am talking about are those that think they are “enlightened,” who “watch” the kids and “help” around the house (for those that are interested in the split of domestic labor among married couples with children that both work full time please see Coltrane, 2000, “Research on Household Labor: Modeling and Measuring the Social Embeddedness of Routine Family Work” for a good summary.  Yes folks, in some ways we are still living in the 1950s).  These are the same people who tuned into the Lingerie Bowl at half-time.  And I can guarantee you that they make up most of the followers of the Lingerie Football League.  They have turned in their Dallas Cowboy cheerleader calendars for Lingerie Football League trading cards and it falls under the category of “sports” and so is therefore untouchable.

I know that most of the people that read this blog won’t think that this applies to them, believe me I have read the comments sections closely, but that is not the case.  I, as a married woman with a young child, am certainly closer to this world then most of the “regulars” here (not that this describes my husband in any way), but this IS the world that we are living in.  This IS more the norm than not.  I do think that we, as feminists, should be concerned about women whose lives are dramatically different from our own.  This includes those that are in pornography, strippers, LFL players, prostitutes, mothers, and housewives.  Well, either that or we should admit defeat and turn in our feminist cards for a football and a really nice bustier.

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