It may stun Yanks who think Canada’s just a frozen outpost of draft-dodgers and seal-clubbers who frequent hospitals just for funsies (socialized medicine is just a cover for recreational surgery, after all), but your big, maple-scented friend to the north has a Bible Belt of its own, and it’s about to be festooned in garters. The Lingerie Football League is expanding from its single Canadian outpost in Toronto to include Abbotsford, B.C. This sleepy, diverse Vancouver exurb heretofore has been known for its Benedictine monastery, its Roman Catholic mission founders, its big annual Soap Box Derby championship and its agricultural fertility — the Raspberry Capital of Canada, it’s called.
Some news outlets in the area covered the announcement of the yet-unnamed team as a business story. CTV, for one, emphasized the underuse of the tax-supported arena where the team will play, and the growth of the LFL (“the popularity of the league of scantily clad women is on the rise,” you will be shocked to hear). Others took the cheekier tack that this skincentric brand of pigskin would hack off some people in a wholesome town that has been Canada’s most charitable for nine years running.
Sure enough, the Vancouver Sun found the obligatory “one Abbotsford councilor” who “expressed his displeasure” with the whole shebang:
“I believe that a number of our residents will find this form of entertainment objectionable and demeaning to women,” said Coun. Simon Gibson, who also writes a faith column for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. “I regret that this kind of entertainment is growing and that’s why I was opposed to it. I don’t feel it’s in the best interest of nurturing a quality lifestyle in the city of Abbotsford. But the majority of council, informally, thought otherwise.”
Naturally the league’s spokesfolks have emphasized the butch rigors of the sport (“from concussions to broken collar bones”) over its more obvious draw (bums, bras). In any case, the resistance seems muted. The LFL has already planted its flag in a nine NFL cities (plus L.A. and Vegas) without staining the moral character of the likes of Orlando or Minneapolis; hell, 14 partially nude women cavorting in front of thousands of meaty-necked frat-jocks is practically a choir recital by Tampa standards. Plus there’s the issue of quantity. The summer’s schedule will include just two games in Abbotsford, and here’s guessing the $48 average ticket prices will send any impressionable preteen boys to get their gawking in elsewhere.
You have to admire the core of Gibson’s gripe, though, that women deserve better. The LFL’s argument that its dress code is in line with volleyball players and swimmers is laughably sleazy. Uniforms bedecked in baby-bows and topped off with purely decorative garters undermine the very thought of this as a sporting enterprise, even if players do get their collar bones concussed or whatever. Churches have enough sexual baggage that any protests look like prudery. But if they’re the ones who step forward to point out the tackiness of packing an arena to slaver over wardrobe malfunctions, then, you know, God bless ’em.
Regardless, women are already looking forward to the tryouts, including this rugby captain who already has the look nailed. Quoth her father: “I know there are a lot of people who are upset — if you’re upset about it, don’t watch. From a guy’s perspective, it’s lingerie, football, girls — I love it.” She, however, has noticed a drawback. “The fact that you’re playing in no clothing — that’s the only negative.”