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Commentaryby Elizabeth Suman11:22 amOct 4, 20100

Baltimore Charm plays football in lingerie – is their pay skimpy too?

Above: Members of the Lingerie Football League’s “Baltimore Charm”

The Baltimore Charm, which is Baltimore’s new Lingerie Football League team, played the Tampa Breeze at 1st Mariner Arena on Friday night, unfortunately beginning their first home game of their first season with a loss of 33-0.

Another place the women might be losing? In their wallets, depending on the accuracy of various reports on how much women on the other teams in the League are paid.

Claims about how much the women (who play football while wearing bikini tops and briefs) are paid vary, depending on who you talk to.

Former LFL player Amber Ryan told the Dallas Cowboy Times that players make a percentage of ticket sales, which the League confirms.

Meanwhile three former “LA Temptation” players are reportedly suing the League for, among other things, being paid less than $8 an hour (California’s minimum wage), not receiving overtime, and not getting a cut from the 2010 $100,000 LFL Championship purse.

According to the LFL, all players on all teams are paid in the same way:  “All LFL players are paid the same bonus structure of 20% of ticket sales if they win and 10% if they lose,” said LFL Media Director Stephon McMillen in an email to the Brew today.

This pay structure includes players for the Baltimore Charm, McMillen said:  “Charm players are paid based on attendance, just like every other (LFL) team.”

But “bonus structure” is a somewhat misleading phrase, since it describes players’ total compensation — not a bonus amount on top of a base annual salary or even an hourly rate.

“We do not pay salaries because LFL player are not employees,” said McMillen, referring to the fact that players in the league are considered independent contractors.

Hold it, hold it. Time-out!

Some readers may still be struggling with the basic idea of this cheesy soft-core “sport” existing at all in 2010. Believe it folks.

In its second year, the 10-team league already has a nationwide cable television broadcast partner; corporate sponsors, and they’re finalizing a contract for a reality television series next summer, according to The Washington Post.

The Charm, an expansion team, joins the Dallas Desire, the San Diego Seduction and  – you get the idea. High-octane auto dealer and television pitchman Scott Donahoo has reportedly said he would like to buy an interest in the Charm. Of course, he would!

The LFL makes a point of defining itself as a sport rather than women running around a field without many clothes on. Baltimore Charm coach Rick Reeder told the Post that he’s “looking for football players,” not babes: “This isn’t about women running around in almost nothing. This is about competing. About winning.”

The Post reporter also overheard a television director at a recent Charm game give his cameraman some directions he  probably wouldn’t have heard at an NFL game: “get lots  of great (rear) shots!”

Okay, we now return you to the feature story already in progress.

Revealing outfits, but not “financials

Players on the team that wins the “Lingerie Bowl” also receive “a large bonus,” according to McMillen, who wouldn’t say the size of the bonus or respond when asked what a woman makes on average in a year, based on the 10%/20% ticket sale percentage they have in place.

“We do not comment on actual financials because the LFL is privately held corporation,” he said.

McMillen also pointed that, as of 2010, LFL players are “also now free to pursue endorsement deals.”

Fantasybaseballdugout.com claims players make approximately $40,000 a year, which could be accurate depending on the number of spectators that buy tickets in a given year and how many wins or loses the team receives.

On the other side of the gender-sports-payment spectrum, the median salary of an NFL player in 2009 was $770,000, according to the Boston Globe.

New England Patriots star Tom Brady just re-upped his contract for an additional $72 million over four years, according to ESPN, which means he will soon receive the highest yearly salary of any player in NFL history.

However much women in the LFL are paid, it’s probably safe to say that it’s less than male football players who are, incidentally, given the opportunity to play the game and wear clothes on the field all at the same time.

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