The league announced a major re-branding during a press conference on Wednesday that includes a new league name, new uniforms, game equipment modifications and a new focus on the playing abilities of the leagues athletes. Mitchell Mortaza, Founder and Chairman of the LFL, said the move is so that the league can gain credibility as a sport rather than being "thought of as a gimmick."
The Legends Football League, as it will be known now, is entering its fourth season and has seen explosive growth since premiering in 2009. NBC Sports called the LFL the “Nation’s fastest growing sports league” and expansion plans include Australia, Europe and Asia over the next two years.
Atlanta will field a team in the league for the first time this season. The Steam began player workouts in early November and recently completed the team’s mini-camp. There were many players that impressed during the camp. Gino Payne (covers the Steam for LFL360.com, the league website) did a review of player’s performances during the mini-camp that introduces many of the soon-to-be Steam players to new fans. The team will invite 25-30 players to the official camp, and then cut to 20 that will make up the season opening roster. Close to 400 players turned out for the initial tryout in early November.
The LFL January off-season Power Ranking Report has Atlanta No.9 in the 12 team league.
While Mortaza believes this “transition” is necessary for the league to continue to grow its fan base, many of the current fans have questioned why a change was needed. A review of comments on the team’s social media sites clearly highlights the issue-many fans see the league as entertainment first, sport second. That is preciously why league management made the decision to take this action-the league and its players want to be seen as a legitimate sport first and foremost.
The changes announced are all an attempt to change the way the game is thought of by those that are introduced to the game as it continues to expand. The LFL goal is to move the focus from the sexiness of the players to their playing ability. It remains to be seen how much impact the changes will actually have on the field. The press conference gave a preview of the new uniforms and equipment changes and the changes are minor from a fan standpoint.
The shoulder pad changes will provide more protection for the players and that is a good thing- the fact that they are a little bigger than the ones used by the league previously will not be an issue with new fans. The new uniforms (performance wear rather than lingerie), while more athletic in appearance, will appeal to old and new fans alike.
Changing the image of the LFL is going to be a tough task, but the attempt should be applauded. The women that play this game are athletes in every since of the word, and should be appreciated for their athletic skills as well as their beauty.
The Steam will play home games on Saturday April 13 and Saturday May 18 at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.