The crumbling state of indoor women’s football in the United States is emerging into one of the most tragic sporting stories of the decade. Despite women’s football experiencing unprecedented growth, it is doing so in other leagues. Instead, this indoor league has engaged in a downward spiral and the casualties are the dedicated players and coaches whose efforts are beyond the worth of those in leadership.
Taking into account that there is no compensation or health insurance for any who dedicate their time, it is a dehumanizing situation built solely on exploitation. If three words can define the current state of affairs, it would be Abuse against Women. Sadly, a recent injury to a veteran player and the treatment afterwards is nothing short of disillusioning, proving that the league must change its ways if it ever hopes to stage another season.
A reliable source has disclosed that a road trip to Las Vegas resulted in a player suffering an injury in which the emotional wounds may not heal so quickly. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that what happened before the game was nothing short of adding the insult to the injury.
In an effort to control costs, the league does not support the notion of direct flights for road games. As the journey to Las Vegas consisted of a series of connecting flights, frustrations mounted when no transportation was available to get to the hotel.
Despite promises that transport would be made available, along with a credit card allocated for the coach to rent an automobile, two hours passed with no transport and a declined credit card. The result was taxis being summoned in order to get the team to the Hooters Hotel, a bitter irony.
Prior to the game, a member of the league’s hierarchy degraded the team by calling them a joke of a team and declaring how they an embarrassment. The reality is that it is clearly the other way around as this member is nothing short of a misogynist and narcissist. Sadly, these comments would have an ominous tone on the evening to come.
Straps on the helmet must be tied by players in an improper position so that it is easier to remove in order to appease the league’s demands of entertainment and photography requirements. Despite complaints from this player over safety concerns (as she has already suffered a broken nose once before), they had fallen on deaf ears.
Such insensitivity towards player safety truly reared its ugly head in the second quarter. Hit twice, it was the second hit that would push her head back so that a helmet can sneak in past her faceguard and directly hit her nose. Instantly swelling up and bleeding, she removes herself from the field of play, only to have a trainer take 10 minutes to approach her. Sadly, this does not provide relief as the trainer only provides her with ice.
While the concussion tests at halftime should provide relief, it only creates more tension. How could this remarkable athlete not feel significant strain as the young lady who performs the verbal concussion test has to look off of a card? Throughout this whole debacle, her nose has bled for over one hour with no relief.
Despite her best efforts to go one room over to address her team on the progress of her health, she has to argue with a league official. Meanwhile, the blood is still flowing endlessly from her nose and seeping into her throat. With her passages literally drowning in blood, she coughs a stream of blood, sapping her strength and removing her ability to stand.
Tragically, this is the least of the players’ worries. After two hours of constant bleeding, she collapses in the tunnel. Once again, the suggested remedy is ice and something to place up her nose. The only way that she can receive any serious medical treatment is at the urging of her coach. Even that becomes a struggle as the coach has to try and explain to an absolutely incompetent (or perhaps indifferent) group of health care workers that she must be taken to a hospital.
Despite being eventually taken to a hospital, it is one that does not accept her personal insurance. In true inhumane fashion, the league opted to take her to a facility that is closest to the airport because the league wants its player to catch the 1:00 am flight. Any organization that is counting its pennies that much has no right to be in a business that is endangering the lives of its performers.
The only thing more arrogant than the cheapness is the lack of dignity in ensuring this athlete is being cared for. Another representative of the league was so stubborn about having a group of people join her at her side for emotional and moral support. Instead, it was an unnecessary argument and struggles to authorize only one teammate from being at her bedside in such a dire time.
Such insensitivity starts on the top. The individual who was berating the team earlier in the night is on the phone with the teammate at the player’s beside, who is suffering from severe worry in the hospital. Instead of providing comforting words, this individual displays complete and utter ignorance by stating that the injured player is a big girl and will be fine.
Obviously, this individual has little consideration for the health and well-being of players who compete for no compensation or no health care. Under such emergency circumstances, the league should be willing to pay for such medical emergencies.
Instead, the player is rushed to x-rays and told that she must make her 1 am flight since the league refused to pay for a different one. Concerning the teammate who was at her bedside, she was told that she could not stay with her after 1 am (should the injured player opt to stay).
Despite the medical recommendation that she should not go on a flight in her state of severe pain and suffering, she was on the plane at 12:50 am. This was the one instance that made the league happy. Of course, the fact that she did not have any pain pills until she returned home was of no concern to them.
The real pain was the cost of the entire event; an ambulance bill of $1,034, compounded by a fee of $134 for x-rays, and a hospital cost of $2,105, for a grand total of $3,273. Despite the fact that this player has sacrificed two years of her life, missing weekends, holidays, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, her reward is to pay such a monumental bill for an unappreciative individual who sees the players in the league as disposable.
Although the players are worthy of respect and their accomplishments deserve to be celebrated, their careers would be better if their gridiron careers continued elsewhere. Their lives have been shattered by suffering emotional, financial, mental and physical abuse at the hands of a person whose actions are nothing short of criminal.
Had such an incident taken place in little league baseball or in a high school sport, not only would the media have crucified the individual that carried out the mistreatment, but the lawsuits and possible criminal prosecution would certainly have followed.
This disgusting individual was nothing short of lucky that a death did not happen during this game as this brave and remarkable woman certainly risked her life. Instead, the focus is on the most attractive players and constantly selling sex. Sadly, these players are expected to be more than just sex symbols, they are pushed to be salespeople, marketing a league built on lies.
In the aftermath of this debacle, the player, who is also one of the veterans of her team made the visceral decision, was made to depart from the team. Considering that her safety and her life were both in serious jeopardy, there was no alternative. In a statement to her teammates, it was not the league’s leadership that she felt an obligation to. Her teammates were the group that she felt sad for, testament to the camaraderie and the bond that exists between the two.
While she hopes to continue playing football, gladly, it shall not be with this discredited indoor league. Hopefully, the offseason can result in her teammates organizing a campaign fundraiser to help with the hospital bills. It would be the type of publicity that may help shed light on the disgusting treatment these remarkable women have to endure.
For the players, aspects of the appalling treatment are such that only other players can relate to. In reality, the treatment of this player is but a small sampling of the barbaric treatment that these athletes endure when suffering injury. Many of these women are looking for an opportunity to extend athletic careers past college or experience the joy of camaraderie, but are drawn into a world with promises of superstardom. Instead it is one led by a con man where lies and broken promises result in players being disposable.
Not only does this atrocious treatment lack dignity, but it is nothing short of criminal. Surely, there must be some sort of labor law that can prevent such inhumane treatment from occurring ever again. Although players sign a contract in order to play with the league, the fact that they are not compensated should entitle them to some basic human rights.
As unsold tickets start to grow and franchises slowly fold, it has certainly set the wheels in motion for a downward spiral. Sadly, it is the players who are the victims again. While the league plans international expansion, a sort of delusional manifest destiny in which it believes it can truly compete with the likes of the juggernauts in men’s sports, those can only help that some sort of karmic payback will one day rear its ugly head on the individual responsible for this disaster.