Legends Football League, formerly known as the Lingerie Football League, has been the center of a polarizing debate for years now. The organization's intentions, business practices, and motives have all been in question at various points since its inception. We had our own apprehensions at first as well, but after a lengthy conversation with four of the fiercest women in sports (not women's sports, y'know cause they're the same games) we saw the competition in a new light.
Can you state your name, which team you play for, your #, and how long you’ve been apart of LFL?
Megan Hanson: Seattle Mist, #17, 2011-Present.
Allison Alberts: Chicago Bliss, #1, 2012-Present.
Chelsey Haardt: LA Temptation, #9, 2011-Present.
Cynthia Schmidt: Las Vegas Sin, #18, 2012-Present.
What inspired you to join such a dangerous game? Have you always had an interest in contact sports?
MH: I honestly don't think its dangerous. The moment you feel in danger is the moment you get your head ripped off. But what inspired me to join this sport was the roughness, something outside of the norm for a female to partake in. [It's] like my coach said, you have to have a chemical imbalance to play in this sport, and I'm ok with lettin' people know that.
AA: Absolutely, I’ve always loved contact sports. In my town, basketball was the big sport, and I was constantly fouling out of games (whoops). My dad was a pretty good wrestler, and he used to referee my sister and I wrestling when we were children. Even though she always weighed 50 lbs more than me, I had it in my head that I could beat her. The same mindset stands for football. I’m definitely not the biggest girl out there, but I’m certainly not scared of girls who have me by 50 lbs. You can’t be or you’ll get your shit rocked. Once I saw the LFL games on TV, I knew I wanted to play. And I knew I’d love it. The rest is history.
CH: I have always loved football but never tried to play it until my college years. In college I played flag football for three years and fell more in love with the sport than I ever thought possible. Since I only played football for three years in college, I figured I should try to extend my sports career and join a tackle league. So I lifted for a year and then kept proving myself through the tryout process and earned a spot on the best team in the LFL for the 2011-2012 season. Played starting Corner Back in the season opener of my rookie year, too--very proud of that! My inspiration to play comes from a genuine love and respect for the sport, and those who play it. I honestly feel that I was born to play football... so that's why I play. I will play as long as God let's me play.
CS: I've always had a passion for football and I'm a very competitive person. I still remember sitting at my girlfriend's house one night and an LFL game came on MTV2. I looked at her and said, "I don't care where I have to move to, I've got to play in this league."
3 . The LFL has received backlash for appropriating and objectifying women, but from what I can see, the players are fierce and dedicated athletes who embrace real competition. How has your experience been on the inside of the LFL? Are you proud to be an LFL player?
MH: When you surround yourself with like-minded people with one goal, outside voices don't matter, nor do their opinions. My time in the LFL wasn't easy at first, getting flack from others who think I've been objectified, but then I quickly learned and grew as a football player. I'm competing at such a high level of play that I don't have time to waste thinking about what my uniform looks like. I just want to be the best version of me. Better believe I'm proud to be a player of the LFL. I mean damn, can I live?
AA: I absolutely love being a part of the LFL. I think all the girls work really hard to be ready for REAL football games. That takes a lot of physical and mental preparation. I think most, if not all, the women who play in the league now grew up as highly competitive athletic girls. Because of that, I think there is a real camaraderie/respect for each other. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences come out of it.
CH: My experience with the LFL has been a pretty positive one over the years. I train like a guy and bust my ass off every day in the gym to become a better, faster, and stronger athlete on the field. The only 'extra' thing that I work on that is not for athletic performance, are my abs. I like to keep those looking good for the uniform. But that is just my own personal choice and how I choose to represent myself on the field in my uniform. And I am damn proud to be an LFL player! It takes a special kind of woman to be a football player and I'm honored to be one of the special few.
CS: I am absolutely proud to represent the modern age of women’s athletics. There are plenty of sports that require women, and even men, to wear smaller/tighter clothing, and it is just part of the game. I, and we, do not feel objectified for playing in what is essentially a swimsuit. We all work hard on and off the field in training and with healthy eating for our bodies, and we should not be embarrassed to show that. My experience has been nothing but positive; getting to meet incredible women, traveling across the country with teammates of mine who have traveled to other countries around the world, expanding my networking with other professional athletes, giving back to the community through charity events, and lastly still getting to play a sport that I am passionate about, in front of huge crowds and inspiring young female athletes across the world to follow their dreams and not let stereotypes hold them back.
2014 was a really big year for LFL. Do you feel the rebrand from Lingerie Football League to Legends Football League, along with the updated uniforms, are measurably legitimizing the organization?
MH: The rebrand was great! Lingerie is something you wear for your lover in the bedroom. To be quite honest, it doesn't belong in the name of the league at this point in time. People hear that word and think sex. So yes the rebrand has helped push the LFL in a different direction to appeal to more audiences. Let's get it straight though, we will NEVER be a legitimate league to certain people until they REALLY know what goes on behind the scenes.
AA: I mean, removing lace from a uniform isn’t really updating it, [laughs] But honestly, I like playing in the uniform. The bruises and turf burn are like a badge of honor to me. Crazy, I know. The rebrand I think marked the official flux from skinny, hot, model type women to athletic, competitive, talented women. There certainly were those women in the league before as well, but I think there has been more of a transition after the rebrand.
CH: I absolutely do feel that the name rebrand from Lingerie Football to Legends Football League was a smart and positive change for us, and for women's sports. The updated uniforms are pretty awesome too. They're way more comfortable than before and look more professional. It's sad to think that people dismissed us as athletes before due to what we wore and the name of our organization. Women in this league are driven, aggressive, passionate, and smart football players and we should be treated as such regardless of what we look like on the outside. I think that this uniform change makes us more like-able and appealing to sports minded people, and that's always a good thing in my book!
CS: I do. We are being recognized as a global sport now. We will probably always be referred to as Lingerie Football, but we removed the strictly ‘sexy’ vibe of the sport and we are now focusing on the ‘Strong is Sexy’ mantra. It is catching on, especially with the fitness industry booming right now.
LFL is debuting on Fuse on Saturday, April 18. What can viewers can expect from this season?
MH: I've been part of the league since 2011. I've seen the talent level of the athletes get better each year. As a competitor, this only fuels my desire to push myself to get better. The fans can expect faster, stronger, smarter female athletes playing football...hard hits, perfect passes, amazing catches. Did I mention hard hits?
AA: There’s going to be some tight games, some blow-outs, some that come down to the last second or overtime. With every season, I know there are some games that my team (the Bliss) are really proud of, and there are others that I can barely watch because we play so terrible and out of sync. Such is football, eh?
CH: Well Fuse, get ready to see some big hits, great plays, and a few fights. The ladies of the LFL take this sport and the fate of their team very seriously, so every game will be a high-intensity battle for the Legends Cup! Oh, and obviously every game the LA Temptation plays in will be a must see matchup ;)
CS: Hard hitting, real football. Fierce competition and rivalries. We play the toughest teams the league has ever had. The Western conference is experienced and rough. Also, you will see some real talent on the field. Be prepared to be impressed.