Is lingerie football just good marketing?

I can’t help it, I’ve got to chime in on this one. There’s been a lot of chatter over the airwaves, in print and around the water cooler about the Baltimore Charm, the city’s new lingerie football team that held auditions this month.

The basic question is, is women playing football in their underwear exploitation? Or is it just good marketing? The Charm will be the newest team in the 10-team Lingerie Football League, which has teams like the Dallas Desire and the San Diego Seduction. The league bills itself as “true fantasy football.”

Gotta give them credit for just putting it out there — league organizers know what sells tickets.

And it seems as if the women trying out for the squad are perfectly willing to buy into this image. After all they know the deal going in and no one’s forcing them to strip down to their undies and run around like Pamela Anderson did for Baywatch in the 1990s. (It should be noted that the women do wear pads … but they’re neatly positioned so as not to take away from the main attraction.)

So if the players are OK with it, should we be making a fuss? After all, it’s been pointed out that women’s beach volleyball players are just as scantily clad — and they’re on NBC on a regular basis (not to mention the Pro Beach East Women’s Volleyball Tournament held May 15 at the Preakness Infield Fest).

But there is a difference. In beach volleyball, two-piece bathing suits are the uniform. And it’s the same for the men (although some do cheat by wearing sleeveless t-shirts with their shorts, but you get my point). Here, the difference in uniforms is almost the whole point. The league’s coaches and organizers may say fans are drawn in by the lingerie at first but come back for the football, but just one look at the league’s homepage and it’s clear what this is about.

But again, I wonder — should we care? An interesting note is that this league says it is profitable. Would it still be profitable if it was just women playing football? Maybe that’s a question for the Independent Women’s Football League, which I’ll note, I’d never heard of until five minutes ago when I did a Google search.

If women want to make some extra money running around playing football in their underwear, and if people want to buy tickets to watch, should we stand in judgment? Or should we applaud them for finding a business model and a marketing angle that seems to be working?