The Legends Football League deserves applause.
By ditching lingerie for legitimate uniforms, it accomplished something extremely rare.
It prioritized credibility over ratings.
Founder Mitchell S. Mortaz released a statement this week on the change via the league’s official website:
This is the next step in the maturation of our now global sport. While the Lingerie Football League name has drawn great media attention allowing us to showcase the sport to millions, we have now reached a crossroad of gaining credibility as a sport or continuing to be viewed as a gimmick. In the coming years we will further establish this sport in the US, Australia, Europe and Asia as the most known form of American football globally. In order to reach the next milestone, we feel the focus has to be the sport and our amazing athletes.
This man just said, “Screw you, go find some other girls to drool over” to his primary audience: males.
Mortaz even admitted it. For the first few years of its existence, the LFL survived off of a gimmick.
The vast majority didn’t watch the Lingerie Football League for the football; they watched for the lingerie. Half-naked women doing anything will attract a male audience. It’s science.
But Mortaz and his brain trust wanted more for their women. They desired respect for their athletes—something absolutely impossible to achieve under the previous marketing plan. The LFL essentially changed its blueprint from selling bodies to sport.
And while that will help the league’s credibility as a product, it’ll take time to establish its credibility as a competition. Again, that’ll be difficult to achieve.
Substance isn’t valued nearly as much as flash. For crying out loud, Justin Beiber has more Twitter followers than Barack Obama, and Nicki Minaj sells more albums than Nas. The Lingerie Football League was 100 percent flash, while the transition to Legends will give it more substance as a sport.
But ask the WNBA; building credibility as a professional sport with a credible product is a challenge. No longer will the LFL have an audience that’s hormonally geared to tune in. In the long run, though, the respect it has the potential to gain makes the change worth it.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.