Football is a rough sport. I often relate it to the ancient battle between gladiators with their armor and swords clashing in a coliseum. It is a sport that has grown into a sport for giant men playing a game in front of millions of people. From time to time I will see stories of girls playing high school football and even some articles of semi pro women’s leagues.
So is there a place for a legitimate women’s football league in the crowded sports landscape?
Right now there is the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the little-known National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and even lesser known National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). So what about football?
There is the Legends Football League (formerly known as the Lingerie Football League) but that one is for the professional wrestling crowd. I don’t really consider it a legitimate sport. Especially when it exploits women by trying to sell sex instead of sport. I’m not for that and will not support that as a legitimate sport. You don’t need to put women in bikini-type uniforms.
It’s difficult for women who want to play football to be taken seriously. Even in high school, the news reports girls playing football as some kind of novelty. In Florida, they actually have football as a girls’ sport in high school but it is more of flag football played by girls’ teams in the spring. Still not a sport that people take seriously. They even refer to it as “powder puff” football.
Occasionally, the newspaper will report on a local women’s football team but other than a brief space filling story, there is not much coverage on the sport.
There are currently five women’s football organizations in the United States. The Independent Women’s Football League, Women’s Football Alliance, United States Women’s Football League, Icon Women’s Football Association and Women’s Xtreme Football League but these leagues barely get any recognition and even less than men’s semi pro football teams and leagues.
Okay, I’ll be honest and say that it’s hard for me to see women in helmets and pads playing the same game. I’m not being sexist here but it’s just not the same. Football is physically difficult and very dangerous but I suppose it isn’t any different than other contact sports out there. They even have women’s hockey in the Olympics and hockey is very physical. So what is it about football?
So if I were going to start a women’s football league, how would I do it?
- Sponsored by the National Football League (NFL). I think a women’s league to be considered legitimate would have to have the backing of the NFL just as the NBA does the WNBA. The league would also try to match teams with their NFL counterparts.
- Play in the spring. No football league – men’s included – would stand a chance playing in the fall. A short spring schedule would be the way to go.
- Change equipment and rules to make the game safer. I think you could change the helmets and protective gear so it wouldn’t be so dangerous.
- Encourage sponsors of women’s products. Instead of beer and car commercials, get the companies that are geared for women.
What rule changes would I implement?
- Play 7-on-7 instead of 11 players. Doing so would spread out the players and make games easier to watch.
- No kickoff or punt returns. These are the most dangerous parts of the game.
- No blitzing or limit blitzing to one player.
- Changes in football helmets to be smaller or better design to reduce concussions.
- Instead of shoulder pads or other gear, design uniforms with the necessary padding built-in to allow for easier movement and safety when colliding with other players.
Although a women’s league won’t have the same type of feeder system such as high school to college to pro like the NFL does, I think there are enough women players out there that could fill the rosters of 12-16 teams to make it a quality game to watch. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee the NFL sponsoring a women’s professional league but I think they are missing a chance to promote the sport to an fan base that is already a strong demographic for the NFL. Personally, I think it’s time for a legitimate professional league.