Jamie Barwick doesn't have an extensive football background. Then again, neither do the majority of the players on The Bliss, Chicago's entry in the Legends (formerly Lingerie) Football League. But next year, the 2001 Hampshire graduate, who played basketball and ran track in high school and basketball at Aurora University will return for her second season as a tight end for the Bliss, competing – unpaid – in a professional football league she admits raises plenty of eyebrows for various reasons, starting of course with the uniform.
People don't equate football with a bathing suit. But I always tell people that, even when I lived in a small town in Hampshire and ran track, I ran track in underwear. That was my uniform. I wasn't even 18 yet and I was out there in front of people running track in my underwear. You see the Olympic volleyball people and they have little underwear on and a sports bra – like they couldn't play in a T-Shirt? My only thing was, if I was going to do it, I better look good enough to do it. I didn't do it to (worry about) what other people thought.
The last time I played football before this was the powder puff game before prom. I had to completely re-train my body and at the same time, I was learning an entire new sport because being a fan of football is a completely different story than playing it. It's so strategic and there's a lot to know. It was not easy. All of us were in the same boat. We were all athletes of different kinds, but it was, 'Do you have what it takes to play football? But I made the team because I'm athletic enough and I foot the bill for what they're looking for. So I guess that was my accomplishment.
Did part of me think, 'OK – do you think there's a reason we're half naked' or 'Is there a purpose behind this?' Absolutely. That was something kind of (league founder) Mitch Mortaza's angle to get people there. It was kind of like a marketing tool – not a bad idea. There is a full tackle team – I think it's called the Chicago Force. Does anybody know about them? So the idea (with the LFL) is that you have to be athletic and yet beautiful. These people are unique because they're athletes, but they can also look good even when they're half naked. Sex sells and people know that. Now, as the league is growing and we've re-branded (to the Legends Football League), we want to be role models and lingerie is not a role model for someone who is young. Now we're Legends Football League and we wear the same uniform.
I'm one of the few moms on the team and I'm a big advocate for teens or for children. It's easier to be a role model when you say you play for the Legends Football League than Lingerie Football League. But I don't have a problem with that. It's really hard to be on the team because you're looking for a specific person. If you were to line up the Chicago Bears in their underwear, how many of them look great? So it's a very specific person to be on our team and a lot of us take pride in the fact that we take care of our bodies and yet, it's beautiful to be strong.
You'll have people on Facebook or any type of social media that want to date you or go out with you not because of who you are, but because of what you do. I find that hilarious. I wouldn't say (the attention) made me uncomfortable and I found it more amusing. I'm a very normal, grounded person. I'm a mom, I have a job and I think some people look at you as if you're a celebrity. So just the comments people make or the attention you get is amusing to me because people's perception is not reality.
I'm Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If there's someone you would like to see featured, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Twitter @NWH_JeffArnold.