What is developing into one of the most tragic and saddest sports stories of the 2010s is the unfair treatment concerning the women that are competing in a particular indoor football league. Over the last year, many players have had the courage to stand up by going to the media or just outright walking away from the league of lies.
Helping their cause and honoring their struggle is a website that recently launched, helping to not only expose existing problems but hopefully prevent others. The website shares dozens of stories (more on that later) about the undignified treatment of a group of players who were exploited and made to feel as if the league was doing them a favor in doing so.
Spearheaded by an admirable individual who had a front-row seat to this debacle is fighting back. Having been involved with the league as a beat writer and later in an editorial capacity, the unforeseen truth eventually surfaced about the league and it was an ugly truth. After being involved with minor league baseball and coverage of pro football training camps, this individual knew how things were properly administered in other sports and waged a one-man battle that is rightfully growing in support.
Believing that every dog gets its day, the site is devoted to dignity and fair play, while ensuring a moral victory for the players whose countless sacrifices do not always gain the recognition it deserves. Said site features four categories. One is a biography on the creator of the site and their noble motivation to engage in such a cause. The second is a sample letter which is sent to various arenas which may be seen as prospective sites for league play, sharing the horror stories of how the league mistreats its people.
While the fourth link shares the chance for athletes to anonymously share their feelings over league affairs, the third link is truly the heartbeat of the site. With links to over two dozen stories, ranging from safety issues in Toronto, to allegations of game fixing in Florida, it is nothing short of tragic to see that such activity could take place in the last decade.
To someone with no involvement in sport, an outsider, the opportunity to study these stories would almost appear to be situations that occurred from a generation or two ago. How could a league from this era, especially one when so many women have accomplished major breakthroughs in equality, engage in such activity?
In so many of these cases, there tends to be one individual among the league’s leadership emerging as the common factor. Unfortunately, such controversy only serves to tarnish one’s image, an image that may hinder the league’s future.
Taking into account that a few years ago, games from this league were actually broadcast on cable television, the potential to be as popular as mixed martial arts or wrestling, other sports that blended entertainment and popular culture truly seemed possible. Instead, ego and exploitation followed with bridges burnt throughout North America.
Unfortunately, one of the league’s top leaders carried themselves with the arrogance and swagger of infamous sports individuals such as Vince McMahon (wrestling), the late Harold Ballard (hockey) and the late George Steinbrenner (baseball). While the aforementioned were known for their tantrums, greed, verbal assaults and getting their own way, there was a key difference – their employees were compensated.
In the case of Ballard and Steinbrenner, their respective sporting enterprises were monopolies with a built-in fan base that transcended generations. Iroincally, their teams would experience success when both would back off and let the people they hired do their jobs. Although McMahon built his empire in a remarkably quick time span, he never forgot to put money back into his product, ensuring the quality was always better and paying top dollar for the best talent available.
The indoor football league was built on a shoestring budget with the belief that the “sex sells” mentality would work anywhere while treating the players as if they were disposable. Considering many of the players were college educated, having participated in collegiate varsity sports, while engaging in careers such as medicine, law and even military personnel, these athletes were role models,
In an era where there are so many entertainment options and the online world continues to revolutionize society, it is not uncommon to see the most promising business enterprises fail. Even a female sporting enterprise such as the Naked Women’s Wrestling League (Carmen Electra was actually the host of this product) failed to build a fan base despite the sex sells approach.
Sadly, promises of celebrity and superstardom were never met in the indoor league. Athletes were sucked into a world filled with nothing but unfulfilled dreams where favoritism and sex appeal won out over merit. Adding to such frustrations was the fact that compensation and health insurance was nothing more than a fallacy in this world. With speculated revenues of over $1,000,000 in one year, the fact that there was no salary or effort to improve the playing surface (which has duct tape on various parts) is a perfect example of greed, where one refuses to share the wealth with the people whose blood and sweat helped create said wealth. Fairness works.