Women’s Football is Not an Oxymoron Either

10 11 2009

This just in: The Haters™ are irrelevant.

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote,

While I will not wag a shaming finger at the “haters” for not liking women’s athletics in and of itself, what concerns me is the attitude that no woman should play sports, and no league or organization should exist to encourage these activities.

This past weekend I discovered the philosophical fork in the road concerning women in sport, summed up nicely with two photographs:

Lingerie Football League photo

Austin Outlaws Photo 1

The top photo was snagged from the Lingerie Football League. The second from one of the teams in the Women’s Football Alliance.

The first league has received a fair amount of publicity, usually concerning the “Lingerie Bowl”.

The second was entirely unknown to me until this past weekend. I was clicking a series of women’s hockey-related links and somehow stumbled upon the WFA home page. I think it was from Google trying to auto-complete my search phrase, and the words “women’s pro football” caught my eye as a possibility.

Now: It would be very easy (and certainly in the realm of “pundit’s privilege”) to pair the “haters” with the top photo. I could argue that the “haters” want to objectify women, aren’t interested in athletic achievement outside of their male heroes, and just want to see some skin. But what the haters missed — along with many others, myself included — is that while the battle of words raged on, men and women conspired to bring about full-contact NFL-style football for women.

Some background, for those who wonder what might be so earth-shaking about this discovery: In my high school days, the closest girls/women ever got to playing NFL-style football was an activity called “powder puff”. Way to make males everywhere discount the sport. Being told that a powder puff game was scheduled was like being asked by your much younger sister to play My Little Pony®. Imagine if the WNBA called itself “powder puff basketball”. Imagine if the US Women’s National Soccer Team played “powder puff soccer”. Would the term “haters” be so prevalent and reviled when discussing these sports?

I heartily encourage you to follow the links on the WFA site. I have been fascinated and encouraged by the development of this previously unknown league.

In a recent discussion with a female co-worker, we touched upon the claim that “feminists” have a mandate to support women in sports. I argued that it is at root a civil rights issue, namely that girls/women should have the right to play whatever sport they wish. This does not guarantee success. This does not guarantee fame. This does not guarantee longevity. What it does guarantee is freedom of expression, and perhaps, opportunity.

As I am childless by choice, I can only empathize with how my would-be daughter might thrive in the world today. My hope, if I were a parent, and I do hope this for your daughters presently, is that if she wanted to play any sport you can name, that opportunity exists. And if it didn’t, that people would recognize and fill the void. I hope that if she asks, “teach me how to play,” she will learn. I hope that if she says, “I want to be on the team,” she will be welcomed aboard. I hope that if she says, “I want to do my best,” there will be mentors, team-mates, friends, teachers, coaches, and most importantly, her parents to help her realize that potential.

To those who fret about the “haters”, I say this:

The haters aren’t raising your children.

The haters don’t have a monopoly on heroes.

The haters aren’t serving as positive role models.

The haters aren’t telling your child that if they can look up, they can get up.

The haters just want to keep people down. That women are their target is coincidental. If they couldn’t pick on women they’d find somebody else. All of their power is supplied by those who opt to provide it.

Others channel that energy into creating something positive.

People like her:

Austin Outlaws Photo 2

When I saw this photo for the first time, I thought, “I have seen the future.”

But that’s not entirely accurate. That future is now. It wasn’t created by worrying about what the haters think or how they’ll find fault in it.

The haters are irrelevant. I embrace the now.

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