Introducing the Lingerie Basketball League; Featuring My Headache

There was a brief period of time in which I’d convinced myself I could have something other than disdain for lingerie sports leagues. I thought I was being open-minded and giving things a chance but ultimately I have no interest in either of those prospects when it comes to this particular issue. I love sports. Without them, I have no idea what kind of person I would be today. Possibly someone who knows way too much about wine. Those people are the worst.

Without my involvement in sports, maybe my family members wouldn’t view women’s athletics the same way they do now. Maybe they would flip past women’s soccer when channel surfing. Maybe they wouldn’t know who Candace Parker is. And maybe when I walked in on my brother watching Lingerie Football his first comment would have been about how hot some chick was rather than him voicing disappointment with the quarterback’s play compared to the last game.

I hadn’t thought about that moment until I read about the Lingerie Basketball League. My broski was watching for the sport. The lingerie was a non-factor. Or at least he was smart enough to purposely give me that impression. My problem is that within the LBL, I see basketball as the non-factor. It’s an unfortunate accoutrement to sweaty women running around giving new meaning to booby trap.

This is a booby trap

To me it undermines the integrity of sport and diminishes the seriousness in which people treat female athletes…which is none at all in some cases. Called “professional basketball with a twist,” the Lingerie Basketball League began play with a double header exhibition July 23rd. The twist being it’s not professional basketball. Can you just slap professional on anything now? My credentials are about to improve tenfold if that’s the case.

Currently the league has four teams, all from Los Angeles. With riveting games that finish at 38-26 and players so in touch with the sport they brag how they will be “floating through that air like Sky Jordan,” how could this league not flourish? The games follow women’s basketball rules for the most part. There is a Red Light Special rule which allows the player a 60 second opportunity to score a bonus point. I don’t know what that means but it sounds idiotic. Really, all of it does.

Sky Jordan by Michael Johnson

Often the notion/excuse/justification is that a lingerie league can convince male sports fans that would usually bypass women’s basketball a chance to experience its appeal. Assuming that these fans take a pass because they perceive women’s sports as less impressive and view players as not that good, why would a league comprised of less talented players than those that play professionally change their minds? Perhaps true athletic ability can only be seen while scantily clad. I have no desire to look into this possibility.

There’s something so bothersome about this phenomenon that I can’t enjoy the fact that there are women running around in lingerie. Grass stained soccer shorts or a ripped rugby jersey are infinitely hotter in my opinion. Whatever. Maybe I’m straight.

For all of you who aren’t straight, does the LBL catch your interest in the same way lingerie football does? Can you be mad about the sexual objectification that accompanies the league when women voluntarily sign up?

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Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 328 articles for us.


  1. “Can you be mad about the sexual objectification that accompanies the league when women voluntarily sign up?” Way ahead of you.

  2. Can we create a league where we wear cute boyshorts/boxerbriefs/the undies of your choice and then play beer pong or something that we might all be skilled at?

    or i mean basketball is good too i just think we should make our own specifications as to what “sexy” underwear is.

    and also we should just play for fun.

  3. yeah this does not sound appealing to me at all. Aswell the issue of presenting female athletics like this…. even if its supposedly a “twist” on professional female basketball is degrading and is discouraging to other viewers ( older and younger athletes) who either play or want to be in serious sports, where they are treated equally.

    I prefer grass stained knees and ripped shirts any day over this… god.

    The sports world is getting better for equality issues lgbt and women sports but this is about 100 steps back in my opinion.


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  5. Uhm.

    I’m not really sure this counts as degrading, or discourages everyone who stumbles upon it. I must admit, I’d probably find this less degrading than any reality tv show.

    Talent is only one factor in how popular some(thing/one) can become… if the overall presentation is great (or awesomely awful), then people might not care about the talent involved.

    I’m not really sure sports has integrity now, and as seen by the riots following some sporting events, I see no issue with people taking sports less seriously.

    As far as I’ve been able to determine, members of the LFL (and LBL, apparently) get paid to play the sport. Not very much, and more if they win, but they still get paid. By that distinction alone, they are just as professional as any male or non lingerie team.

    To be honest, I won’t watch this, as I’m just not interested in sports really… but I don’t see any issues with it either. It’s not like people are being forced to play, and who said being in touch with reality was a good thing anyways?

    (PS. Why was the dislike button removed? I’d rather honesty, than a one sided “like” system…)

    • >>As far as I’ve been able to determine, members of the LFL (and LBL, apparently) get paid to play the sport. Not very much, and more if they win, but they still get paid. By that distinction alone, they are just as professional as any male or non lingerie team.>>

      I had this same thought… do they get paid? Seems like yes.

  6. Well now I can add lingerie leagues (I didn’t know that they exist, but I’m not surprised) to the list of things that I pray about my future children not being interested in. This is not one of those situations in which something is better than nothing. I.e. People watching this is not better than people not watching women’s sports at all.

  7. All I can think about is how uncomfortable all that jumping will be without proper sports bras.

    • seriously. I dislike these leagues entirely because they secretly discriminate against the large breasted woman. aka me.

      • YES! When I read the phrase “Lingerie Basketball League,” I actually grabbed my breasts in pain. And then I promised them that I would never do anything so horrible to them.

        And then I realized that was sort of a weird thing to do, so then I had to share it with the Internet. And then there was this comment.

  8. I find these underwear sports teams quite interesting: I play roller derby and train damn hard three times a week. I do not wear underwear as outwear for training or at our matches (aka bouts) but some girls do. Some girls like to wear fishnets and pants etc, and their sporting ability certainly does show through what they are wearing. However the difference to me seems to be that derby girls wear the underwear because they want to and it’s for their own reasons whatever they be, but these underwear sports leagues have to, and are marketed towards straight men. I am really interested in this as I find these sports leagues extremely offensive to my over sensitive feminist brain, but I never even considered in within derby until a friend asked me what the difference was…

    • i think derby costumes are completely different though. a lot of my friends are in derby and i’m looking to join, and it doesn’t seem like anyone wears the stuff for fetish play or to turn on men. most of it is the fun of wearing a costume. plus a lot of them (at least here) try to make it more burlesque looking, or “trashy”, than sexy. not that it’s not sexy. I just don’t think it’s the aim.

    • As a derby player I’ve thought about this…and for me it really comes down to the intent. Derby’s punk and burlesque elements are often about trying to bring traditional ideas of femininity into direct conflict with the fact that it’s a bloodsport. It’s not performance for men, it’s to show yourself how damn sexy and badass you can be.

      There’s some debate at the higher levels of derby play that are moving towards using ‘proper’ uniforms and real names instead of the hilarious ‘skater names’ popular now – again the argument is that having these elements delegitimizes it as a sport. I see this as another way of capitulating to image politics in women’s sport. We chose what we wear, and we train and play hard for US.

  9. The only excuse said lingerie leagues give is the excuse for men to CONTINUE treating female athletes(and women in general) with a lack of respect. This is hurting female sports far more than helping them. Men are only watching because the women happen to not be clothed, not because they are suddenly taking the game seriously, and its not going to help validate it for them in the future either.
    It’s a joke.

  10. I don’t see how this is different from Lingerie Football. And I’m annoyed by both sports.

  11. I have mixed feelings about this. I haven’t heard of this new basketball league before, but I read some things about the football league when people thought I had made up the existence of the LFL. Believe me in my fantasy they’d be wearing tshirts and oversized athletic shorts, but my preference is a story for another day. Anywho the one thing that struck me is in an interview with one of the players from the LFL she commented that all she wanted to do was have a chance to play football and she’d wear whatever it required. With the existence of the WNBA the LBL seems ridiculous but if you want to travel and get equipment and meager pay for a sport you love I respect the right to do so, even if the premise is degrading.

  12. I find the LBL and the LFL and all other examples of it (the Russian women’s team that played in lingerie to try and get more fans) as being really sad.

    Come, let us call a spade a spade. If people will laugh at the soccer skills of Marta, they will not begin appreciating the sport if Marta were to be running around in Victoria’s Secret wings. If you can’t appreciate the WNBA, then no amount of cleavage will make you more appreciative of a dominating full-court press defense in the LBL.

    I can’t say how we can fix the disparity in interest that originates in a disparity of sexist support, and now leads to a disparity in options and funding that only exacerbates the disparity in interest. What I can say, however, is that this isn’t it. Let’s not kid ourselves. This is softcore pornography.

  13. I am A-Ok with any woman who is willing to wear lingerie and run around for two hours attempting to play any sport.

    I would be more offended by an actual professional sports team changing the dress code and deciding to dress the women in half naked apparel to make it more appealing. But these woman aren’t professional basketball players, they know this! They enjoy being on display just as much as the viewers enjoy watching.

    To say that the producers of these leagues are doing this to increase popularity in female sports (unsuccessfully) is one view, but woman do not even have a professional football team…so its less about increasing popularity in professional female sports, and more about knowing what men who watch sports like (not all men, dont worry I am not stereotyping). Its all about the ratings.

    Its like comparing dancers to burlesque dancers. Burlesque dancers do not do burlesque because they were good dancers but didn’t get enough attention. They do it because its a genre of dance they like/prefer.

    Who are we to NOT turn on our TV’s and give these women the ratings they want!

    Dress half naked, attempt a lay up, giggle and high five eachother. I am down.

    (I must add, I enjoy full dressed male and female sports as well)

  14. The disappointing part is that Lingerie Leagues (like football and basketball) are some of the very few opportunities that female athletes have to get paid to play a sport. For example, the Lingerie Football League is pretty much the only football league in the US where women get paid to play. Otherwise they have to pay for equipment, coaches, field fees, referee fees, etc. The existence of Lingerie Leagues essentially turns women’s athletics into sex work and reduces the opportunities to play professional sports.

  15. not only do i find lingerie leagues degrading to women, but also to the sport. don’t get me wrong, i love love love both things, but separately.

    i feel that as a spectator i’m there to support my team and whoever is playing at their best, not to judge on looks or who looks sexy in what (although i will admit that a little show of abs is always welcomed!). i just find it hard to creep during a sports event, i get too into the game

  16. Let me see if I get this straight, these women suck at basketball? Is that correct? So if a moderately talented player decided to join this league to *spend time* with the lingerie wearing ladies she would be their Sky Jordan? Hmmm, maybe I should get in shape

  17. So what about sports like roller derby that have the skin-baring overtly “sexual” outfits built in as part of the game? Any thoughts, straddlers?

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