Category Archives: American Football
It was only a matter of time before some form of Lingerie Football came to Australia. The fact that it is the Gridiron form is probably the most surprising. Apart from sending a couple of punters into the NFL, Australia isn’t really renown for its love of the padded warfare that is American Football. However, it is known for its love of scantily clad sportsmen and women.
It was a bold move to use AAMI Park for these games. I guess the organisers wanted to make the biggest statement they possibly could, and they most certainly did as they drew more supporters through the gates than the fully professional soccer team, Melbourne Heart, usually do – who also call this stadium home! Over 7,000 people flocked to the ground, more in curiosity than in expectation or excitement. Some actually paid $ 70 a ticket to stand in the VIP area at the back of the end zone at field level. They even had their own exclusive bar. If there is one thing that Australians do well, is knowing their market – and how to sell within it. Sport, scantily clad women and alcohol – what isn’t there to entice the “floating fan”?
Is this sexploitation? In a league where a spray tan is compulsory a couple of days before a game (and there is an official spray tan partner!) and the girls’ shape and fitness levels are heavily monitored by the league to ensure they meet their own “elite” standards. Yes, of course it is, but none of these girls have been forced into this against their will! There was a lot of hype, a lot of bravado and of course, a lot of blokes (and other admirers of the female form!) and with the fare being offered, who’s to say they may get an even bigger turnout next time round. Even the sideline commentator is a model – blonde, gorgeous and wore such a short skirt that the girls playing attire would be jealous of!
After the very first play you immediately realise that this is a full contact sport – you don’t actually realise; it literally smacks you between the eyes! The “Unleash Hell” tag is there for all to see but there is no doubt that the whole context of this sport in Australia is to create an artificially over-the-top contest. At every opportunity both teams went above and beyond the call of duty when making tackles. It really was Ice Hockey on grass!! – or was it simply the female version of Rugby League’s State of Origin?? At one stage a melee developed right in front of us, where one of the Maidens (contextually inappropriate here!) literally laid the boot in as hard as she could into a prone Angel’s ribs and the whole incident went totally unpunished. I’d like to say it was a wrestling type stunt, but as plain as day it wasn’t!!!
The referees are there to keep some sort of on-field order, but they didn’t. Off-the ball fouls were ignored, as were quite a few on the ball ones! Late hits were simply part of the game and continuous taunting just seems a necessary part of a player’s armoury. The girls are athletic, and it was no surprise that there were some great plays throughout. There were long passes and some great open field running, but the game will be remembered for the intensity of the hitting and tackling. You quickly forget that the girls are wearing nothing more than a bikini, adorned with a plastic helmet and polystyrene shoulder pads that in all fairness offer about as much protection as the Australian Terrorism Hotline (It’s 1800 1234 00 if you’re at all interested!)
The game itself is played on a 50 yard field. It is a dumbed down version of the NFL. Less players and far less intricacies. It moves quickly, but the four 8 minute quarters are probably a bit short, considering the clock keeps running at all times (except for the last 2 minutes of the 4th quarter!). Half time actually lasted longer than the first half!!The game went score for score throughout and only an interception late in the game that was returned 30 odd yards down the middle of the field, won it for the locals, much to the home crowd’s ecstacy.
At the end of the game, the MVP was announced and then proceeded to back flip down the field and finish off with a somersault – not bad after an evening in the trenches! The crowd bought into the occasion too, willing on their friends and new found team. There were a lot of females in the stands. If this is the pinnacle of girl power, then right-on sisters. I will never criticise anyone for playing any form of sport, and the truth be told, there are some unbelievably awesome Australian female athletes out there that might just take to this form of the sport and find themselves taking on the best the US has to offer.
I cut together some pics and highlights of the game to give you a feel of what went on during the night.
The question remains though – would people still go and watch if the girls wore less appealing clothing? I have to say that the game was tough. The girls hit hard and apart from a few basic skill errors and lack of specialist skills – ie throwing an American Football and kicking it – it was competitive and ultimately engaging. Would I go again? The real answer is, not if I had a better offer or something else to do instead. It was entertaining, went by pretty quick and you can have a drink or two while it’s going on. Down the line, it could be one of those sports that explodes as a Monday night affair where there literally is nothing else to do instead! It will always have a perviness about it, but come to think of it, why is this any different from Beach Volleyball, swimming or athletics???
LEGENDS FOOTBALL LEAGUE
VICTORIA MAIDENS 32 – 26 WA ANGELS
Ask any sports or event lover across the globe what is the Number 1 event on their bucket list? The majority will tell you it’s The Superbowl. And yes, I went to the Superbowl! Even if they have a major dislike for the sport of American Football, like a Wimbledon final or the Monaco Grand Prix, the event itself is on every sports fan’s wishlist. The enormity of this one game is staggering. The entire country comes to a standstill for one Sunday afternoon. Tickets are like the proverbial rocking horse poo, perhaps even scarcer, and hotel rooms in the host city are 1000% more expensive than you would normally outlay.
I had acquired one of the hospitality packages for the game where we were provided with 3 hours of food and drinks before the game. Unfortunately due to some over zealous antics the previous night on Bourbon Street, I was a little under the weather. I was feeling so rough I even dragged myself to a well known burger establishment to try and “grease out” the alcohol to try and feel better. I did manage to come good about 45 minutes before kick off some 5 hours after my double quarter-pounder, but up until that point I literally couldn’t face any beer or any food. What a great way to experience a pre-game party that had already cost me most of my life-savings!!! I tried to make up for it in that last 45 minutes but had to calm down for fear of a repeat event. There were bands playing, there were giveaways and a few things to do and of course the obligatory cheerleader appearances….
I was genuinely excited for the game ahead. On paper there was nothing between the two teams, and a quick straw poll of a few of the not-so-but-a-lot-more-local-than-me supporters showed that it really was a 50-50 split in terms of the eventual champions. Aside from the even-ness of the two teams, what made this game even more interesting was that the two respective coaches were brothers, playing against each other for the first time.
On the outside, the Louisiana Superdome is a behemoth of a concrete dome, essentially characterless. Inside, it is bulging with an atmosphere that is second to none. I think that fact that you are so damn lucky to have a game ticket adds to this air of anticipation. As you ride the escalators to the upper reaches of the stadium, all 12 of them, and then try to find find your section, you try to peek through the doors to steal a glimpse of the hallowed turf, then the opening awaits and you are greeted by:
A guaranteed full house is there, although probably less than half are true Ravens or 49ers fans. I always think that the crowd should be split into ends as it is still foreign to me to see supporters of opposing teams sat together when there is so much on the line. When you add in alcohol and the American spirit, I’m still surprised there isn’t more trouble than there is. Mind you, at a $ 1000 minimum a ticket, it doesn’t really attract that type of client I suppose.
The roar at the kickoff is deafening as the game finally gets underway. Under the tension of the game, the teams swap possession and the Ravens had the better quality and lead 7-3 at the end of the quarter. When the 49ers drop the ball at the start of the 2nd quarter, the Ravens recovered it and then marched down the field to score again. Then on the very next play, the 49ers quarterback overthrows badly and gets intercepted by the Ravens defense, from which a brawl breaks out. I’ve always found it hilarious seeing gridiron players throwing punches at guys wearing body armour and helmets!!!!
The Ravens score again shortly after, and it is starting to look like we have a rout on our hands. The 49ers save a little bit of face by scoring another field goal on the last play of the first half to go into half time 21-6 down.
And then we have half-time. There’s half times and then there is the Superbowl half time, which has become nearly more memorable than a lot of the games themselves. The half time show is more than just a sideshow. This year Beyonce was slated to perform, or more importantly out-perform, last year’s effort from Madonna that smashed ratings records. But, fresh from her recent miming (or is it officially lipsynching now?) allegations, when she failed to sing of all things, the American National Anthem for Barack Obama’s inauguration – the second time around – the presidential thing, not the miming! So with a point to prove, the half time show was about as outrageously slick and explosive as it could be. The game is quickly forgotten as a stage is built, 100s of kids enter the arena and the lights turned out.
Everyone in the crowd was given blue finger lights which created an amazing ambiance. Beyonce was joined by the “other two” from Destiny’s Child who also wore matching dominatrix outfits, who arose from trap doors in the stage, followed by flames and strobe lights. In all honesty the sound inside the stadium was very average and it was quite difficult to make out exactly what was going on, but at the end of the day, the show was for the 1/4 billion+ worldwide TV audience. Half-time is a good half hour, of which less than half of that was booty-shaking, hip-thrusting, hair-flipping and not forgetting sashay-shuffling goodness.
When all the excitement of Beyonce wore off, and with the game seemingly heading for a foregone conclusion, the second half kickoff produced yet more drama.
An NFL record return jolted life into the crowd, already subdued by the error-strewn 49ers and the efficiency of the Ravens. At this point in time it looked as though it could be an embarrassing day for San Fransisco and the NFL. But less than 2 minutes later, the lights went out – literally. Half of the stadium was bathed in darkness as something had quite clearly gone wrong. No-one wanted to say it out loud, but looking around I could see fear in people’s faces. It was the biggest event of the year in America and all of a sudden a blackout. Americans almost immediately think of terrorism and the dangers therein, and why wouldn’t this be any different? An enclosed stadium and 100 million people watching on TV, perfect for an attack, right? Well, it didn’t thank God, and a full 35 minutes later, power was restored and we could get on with the game. I think they did quite well to get an electrician out, on a Sunday night, when there was a big game on!!! Must have been paying triple time, with a call out fee thrown in…
Did Beyonce’s saucy set blow the fuse box???? Mind you, after the previous night, it wasn’t the first time I’ve blacked out in New Orleans….
This break in proceedings gave the kiss of life to the wallowing San Fransisco team. A few plays after the restart, the 49ers pull a score back with an astonishing touchdown from Crabtree, who bounced off two huge tackles and stayed on his feet to score. Six plays later they scored again after a long kick return put them in good position to cut the deficit to only 8 points. Another seven plays later, the gap was back to 5 points when they scored a field goal after the Ravens fumbled the ball on their second possession. The wheels had totally come off for the Ravens and now the momentum was truly with the 49ers.
The 49ers had scored 17 points in the space of 4 minutes to breathe unexpected life into the game.
The fourth quarter started and the Ravens trundle up the field only to be stopped short of the end-zone. They settled for a short field goal to extend their lead back to 8 again. At this point the crowd were in raptures, the atmosphere was so tense. The 49ers fans that wept into their beers not so long ago (well to be honest, after a huge half time show, a kick-off return for a touchdown and a power cut for 35 minutes, it actually was hours ago!) were all of a sudden very chirpy!
With the game turned on its head, it came down to these last two plays. (Apologies for the quality or lack of, but it was the best I could find!)
So there it was. What a game. The most exciting, tense and incident packed Superbowl in 20 odd years. The on field celebrations were so over the top, the best way to describe them is by saying that they were typically American! The Baltimore Ravens were then crowned World Champions of America in game that will live long in the memory for all the right and all the wrong reasons.
On the way out I couldn’t help thinking that San Fransisco were like my old laptop. It always starting working better after you turned it off and then back on again! And my old laptop also took round about 35 minutes to get going too!
BALTIMORE RAVENS 34 – 31 SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS