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Can you imagine if they asked Ray Lewis to play in his boxers?

So, the Lingerie Football League is a real thing. This is news to me.

As noted previously, I spent the last four years in the quaint college town of Bloomington, Indiana. If you wanted to see women wearing less clothing than is usually advisable, you just had to go to the bar on a Friday or Saturday or Thursday or Wednesday or, any night, really. As for the violent part ... I don't remember too many wrestling matches breaking out at the local watering holes. If you waited for this little event called Little 500 -- which ostensibly is a bike race and actually is the sort of bacchanalia that makes your typical frat party or spring break trip or Rick James tour look tame -- girls would wrestle in pudding or jello or whatever. As a townie, I stayed away from these events and merely heard tales of their existence.

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So when word reached me today that there's something called the Lingerie Football League, and that it is in fact entering its second season and that Baltimore -- oh, Baltimore -- has been graced with an expansion team going by the name of, you guessed it, The Charm, I was intrigued.

(Sidebar: In the season two teaser, the music appears to include monks chanting. This is exactly the sort of thing our robed friends must have been envisioning when they directed their voices toward the heavens.)

What I've discovered about the Lingerie Football League so far is this:

It's the answer to that question you've always had that goes something like, "Hey, if MTV doesn't show music videos anymore, then they must all be on MTV2, right? Oh, what's that? No? Well, what's on MTV2 then? How is this possible? Where did the videos go? Why, oh, why? And, is Carson Daly still alive?"

So, yeah. You can catch games on MTV2 if for whatever reason you can't head out to the inaugural home game on Friday night at 1st Mariner Arena.

As for this version of football, it's played on a field 50 yards long by 30 yards wide, indoors. Each team has only seven players on the field at a time. The women wear skimpy outfits, shoulder pads, knee and elbow pads, and hockey helmets with clear face shields (the trade-off there seems to be that if the womens mouths were properly protected you wouldn't be able to see how pretty they are). You're not allowed to kick a field goal or an extra point. You get the gist.

The league has a mission statement, and it is this: "THE LFL WILL OFFER THE ULTIMATE FAN EXPERIENCE PROVIDING UNYIELDING ACCESS TO PLAYERS, TEAMS AND GAME ACTION." (Capital letters theirs.)

No, no, no. Not going to go near that one. Unyielding? Really? Really.

Instead, let's discuss what we know we must discuss here: How are we supposed to feel about this?

It's only so often that something so blatant comes along. (The league touts itself as "true fantasy football.") I know what you're thinking: only the kind of guy who would go on a show like Blind Date would actually conceive this idea and then dedicate his life to something so galling and simplistic. And you're right. You're exactly right. Mitch Mortaza once appeared on the show Blind Date, and was twice as unbearable as you thought anyone could ever be.

But wait. If you happen to watch any of the highlights available via YouTube, you'll notice something: these women are athletic. And brave. And, yeah, the football strategy is un-evolved (for now; but that's also the case at the high school level) but you'll recognize the elements of the game.

What these women are doing, in other words, is, on a legitimate level, sport.

(Sidebar No. 2: If you happen to enjoy your job, or at least need it to allow you and your family to subsist, do not under any circumstance search for videos of the Lingerie Football League online while sitting in a cubicle. Unless you happen to have a job where "investigating" this situation is part of your duties -- as is apparently the case with mine.)

The athletes involved -- many of them played high-level college sports -- understand the deal they've made: they seductively mug for the camera and wear makeup during games. And yes, some of them may be hoping the exposure (that pun was unavoidable) pays off in other areas, such as acting or modeling. But there are others who want to play the game and do so at the highest level -- at least prestige-wise -- and this league is it. They're willing to hope -- wistfully, of course -- that a few among the beer-swilling, ogling masses will get past the capitalistic pablum of sex and violence and appreciate, for even a moment, the game.

There's a lot to discuss here -- this is a loaded post, even by Toy Department standards -- and I hope you will.  There's a broader discussion to be had here about women's sports and why people won't watch and whether it's fair or even correct to say that the games aren't as exciting because the players are smaller and not as fast or strong. Go with it where you will, friends.

But if you're interested, we have two photo galleries on Lingerie Football already posted, and we'll have pictures from the media day on the site tomorrow. Maybe then we'll know a bit more about the women of The Charm. 

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