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A League Of Their Own

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I love Seattle.

Portland has its fair share of Weird Sports. But if this market tends to be a little small – and less of a draw for the fun and unusual – then a short drive on I-5 Northbound is often the simple answer.

And with that, I introduce the Lingerie Football League’s Seattle Mist – minus the lingerie. (It’s still training camp, yo.)

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A wonderful surprise was the cameo appearance by one of my favorite people, Alan Berner, above, from the SeaTimes. A phenomenal journalist, a great person. Very passionate about photojournalism. It’s always a pure joy to be around him.

As you might imagine, there was a lot of debate in his newsroom about whether or not this camp is newsworthy and if the paper should cover it. And then, should it run in City/Region or Sports? It’s not really sports if they’re wearing skimpy clothing, right?

Sometimes, I think that newspaper editors talks themselves out of interesting story ideas for whatever level of paranoia or prejudice they may possess. Yeah, this is sexed-up football, but it’s happening whether you agree with it or not. And it’s happening in your coverage area. Should you turn your head because you don’t find the product credible or cover the story like the journalists that you claim to be?

The Times ran a gallery of Alan’s images online, but they did not assign a reporter to do a full story.

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I’ve photographed many a training camp. In a lot of ways, this one was just the same: agility drills, passing patterns and scrimmages. And then there were some differences: make-up, super duper short shorts and music blaring in the background, a playlist straight from the A-crop.

The league is a spin-off of the 35-minute Lingerie Bowl games played on pay-per-view during halftime of the Super Bowl.

“Yeah, it’s sexy, but that just draws the viewers,” founder Mitchell Mortaza told the Times last year. “You’ve got to keep them, and the fan base has to respect it. Because of that, you’re going to see girls that are beautiful, but athletic, and take it seriously.”

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Going in, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Usually, it’s preferable to photograph something like this that’s NOT on Media Day. The less staged the better. However, I thought maybe the circus atmosphere might add something. Turns out, it didn’t really make any difference.

Looking over my take, I realize the day looked more like powder puff football than anything super sexy. Still an interesting day. I’ll need to return on New Year’s Day for a game to capture the true atmosphere that this league is trying to create. I’m curious, too, to see what kind of fans attend and how they behave.

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Many thanks to Chris Taylor for the place to crash in the Emerald City – and for joining me in a fun time of shooting photos.

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