Professional Women Football Leagues Shortchanged
As pre-season football transitions into play-offs there are certain things you can expect: the first is a whole lot of heart break for Jets fans; the second a sensationalized build up to the super bowl, mostly aimed for what I call "once-a-year football fans" or my less PC term, Hacks. Third is the puppy bowl and lastly the Lingerie Bowl.
I mention the Lingerie Bowl last not just for strategic writing reasons but because it is a mockery of the sport and on the women who love to play it. Women playing tackle football is one thing, but forcing them to do it in lingerie is demeaning.
Women playing full-contact tackle football face challenges beyond the playing field- Jennifer Carter, a University of Cincinnati doctoral student in the UC Department of Sociology, will present her research on body maintenance and social stigmas/setbacks in woman's professional football at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association., ASA reports.
Though little attention is paid to this particular niche in athletics, Carter intends to shed some light on a sport that appears to have no credibility or gains little respect in professional athletic and social circles.
"My own participation in tackle football and observation shows that women players manage their bodies both on and off the playing field through equipment selection, the management of pain and injuries, and, finally, through conditioning and strength training," says Carter.
Football, because of the dangerous it poses to it's players, requires diligent coaching, training and proper equipment: all of which the WFA and the Independent Women's Football League (IWFL), the two largest woman's professional tackle football leagues, seriously lack.
Because their season begins in the spring, which is the off-season for mainstream football, Female football player are affected by a lack of available equipment at their local stores, as merchants stock up on traditional spring sporting gear for baseball and track.
While strength-training and cardio conditioning is a normal and necessary part of organized football Carter found that much of their off-season conditioning was completed without coach or trainer supervision.
She notes that while the players had access to prime training equipment, they had little knowledge or guidance on how to properly use the equipment, therefore, increasing their risk of injury and decreasing effectiveness of workouts.
"More specific to football, the lack of readily available opportunities for women to play at young ages, especially during high school years, contributes to a lack of knowledge of core training tenants, which young boys and men have often been exposed to over extended periods of time," Carter says
To add insult to potential injury Carter reveals in her study that although this is a professional football league, most of the players do not get paid. The WFA players generally earn $1 per game. Despite receiving low or no compensation, the athletes pay for their uniforms, equipment, field rentals, and travel expenses.
Compared to last years average salary of $550,000 for a non-starting Cincinnati Bingle player, it seems the leagues salvation would be to take a cue from female roller derby athletes or the early days of the negro leagues, which used gimmicks and appealed to a niche market or demographic.