The Absurdity of the Lingerie Basketball League
More objectification of women in sports.
When you visit the Lingerie Basketball League’s website, a short video starts to play that showcases pictures of the league’s scantily clad players. The women wear little more than a bra and underwear and have some sort of weird wrapping around their legs (must help with their three-point shot).
The site’s colors are predominantly pink and black and its logo features a silhouette of a woman with noticeable curves. The basketball in the logo is wrapped in what looks like a garter. Next to the logo, you’ll see the league’s tagline: “Where Beauty Meets the Hardwood.” The stagnant background image blacks out the women’s faces with only their chest and stomach visible.
As the pictures rotate, this is the audio you’ll hear in the background:
“America loves basketball. America loves beautiful women. Now, a match made in hoops heaven. I’m Kevin Scholla and this is the Lingerie Basketball League. Are you ready for supreme athletes that are tough on their opponents but easy on the eyes? You better be; the Lingerie Basketball League is here. Join us for professional basketball with a twist – gorgeous women with top-notch talent. Three letters say it all – LBL – the Lingerie Basketball League. Basketball never looked so good.”
I love basketball. I have nothing against lingerie. But mixing the two is asinine.
If you weren’t aware, the Lingerie Basketball League’s championship game between the Los Angeles Beauties (featuring a pageant crown for their logo) and the Los Angeles Glam (the ‘L” in Glam is actually a picture of lipstick) is on November 4.
Will you be watching?
“Lighten up,” you’ll say. “No one is forcing these women to play half-naked. Who cares?”
Maybe you’re spot-on. I don’t disagree that these women have a right to play in the league if they want. It’s absolutely their choice to willingly subject themselves to wearing underwear while playing basketball.
But the issue as it pertains to women’s sports runs much, much deeper than that.
Critics of the WNBA have long called for the league to try new ideas and to market the league in a fresh way. Suggestions have ranged from “sexualizing” the league by having its players wear bikinis or tighter uniforms (some of which are being enforced by FIBA overseas as we speak) to lowering the rims and trying other gimmicks to make it more appealing for males to watch.
My favorite writer (Ben’s note: not really), Bill Simmons, sums up the stereotypical male view perfectly (from his 2005 article):
“…the vast majority of WNBA players lack crossover sex appeal. That’s just the way it is. Some are uncomfortably tall and gawky, while others lack the requisite, um, softer qualities to captivate males between 18 and 35. The baggy uniforms don’t help. Neither does the fact that it’s tough for anyone to look attractive at the end of a two-hour basketball game.”
Bill nails it. That’s why you watch the NBA, right? You want the players to have sex appeal. You watch because they have the “softer qualities” that captivate you. You watch because at the end of a basketball game, they look attractive.
Well, thankfully for Bill and millions of other sports fans, the Lingerie Basketball League is here for your enjoyment. It’s the perfect league! After all, society and male reinforcement has made it mandatory for its female athletes to “captivate” males between 18 and 35 with their “assets.” They have to be universally considered to be “attractive” or people will never watch.
No perceived sex appeal? Must not be worth it.
Sarcasm aside, the remaining issue here is that the over-sexualization of women’s sports continues to be experimented with as if society is simply tweaking with the only way to make it appealing to the masses. Rather than focus on the improved quality of play in women’s basketball, mainstream media outlets now want the LBL to replace the WNBA essentially calling it a brilliant idea that is long overdue.
Does that not sadden anyone else?
The LBL contradicts itself when it says that it is much more than a “powder-puff” team and the women are gifted athletically. I don’t dispute that; many of them are. But, then, why the need for lingerie if you’re resting your laurels on their collective athletic talent?
Women shouldn’t ever have to do this to get attention. And, quite frankly, it’s rather insulting and derogatory.
I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t watch. These women are voluntarily putting themselves in this situation. But it troubles me that the Lingerie Football League (a sister league to the LBL) is now recruiting teenagers as young as 13 for a youth league.
Why aren’t more people upset by this?
And, perhaps more importantly, how long until the LBL does something similar?
The scary and unfortunate part is that these ideas keep testing the boundaries of societal acceptability; the more shocking something is, the more we consume it. What was once a call for “tighter” uniforms has led to players wearing bras and panties.
What’s next? The Nude Basketball League?
Unfortunately, in today’s society, that idea doesn’t sound nearly as outlandish as it should.