Women's Professional Football League

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Women's Professional Football League
WPFL logo.png
The WPFL logo
Sport American football
Founded 1999
No. of teams 1
Country  United States
Most recent champion(s) So Cal Scorpions

The Women's Professional Football League (WPFL) was the original and longest operating women's professional American football league in the United States. With teams across the United States, the WPFL had its first game in 1999 with just two original teams: the Lake Michigan Minx and the Minnesota Vixens. Fifteen teams nationwide competed for the championship in 2006.

The league had been recognized in national media campaigns, in the book Atta Girl, and even had a team (the New England Storm) that had a commercial relationship with an NFL team, the New England Patriots.

Unlike the other women's American football franchises, the WPFL operated as a fall league and not a spring league.

History[edit]

In the early 1960s, many women thought that sports in the US were sexist and needed to shift in another direction, moving beyond the stereotype that women were passive. This sentiment formed the background for the women's football league that was started in order to prove that women had the power to do what men did, with hopes that people would enjoy women's football as much as they did men's. In 1965, the name changed to its WPFL incarnation. Since there were no college women's football teams in the US, most of their athletes came from basketball, rugby, and international football (soccer). After a few years, the sport began to fade.

In 1999 two businessmen, Carter Turner and Terry Sullivan,[1] decided to research the feasibility of a professional women’s football league by gathering together top female athletes into two teams and playing an exhibition game in front of an audience. The game between the Lake Michigan Minx and the Minnesota Vixens at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota was a success and turned into a six game exhibition tour across the country[2] dubbed the “No Limits” Barnstorming Tour.[3]

The success of the Barnstorming Tour led to the first official WPFL season in 2000 with 11 teams competing nationwide.[4] This first season ended with some turmoil however; the regular season was shortened by several games, players were not given their promised $100 per-game salaries, and there were allegations regarding instability with some of the league's financial backers.[5]

The WPFL rebounded the next year completing the 2001 season after several organizational changes. Notable changes included the departure of founders Sullivan and Turner (Turner then founded the WAFL;[6] restructure of the league by several WPFL team owners: Melissa Korpacz - New England Storm, Robin Howington - Houston Energy, and Donna Roebuck and Dee Kennamer - Austin Rage;[7] changes to player/team compensation; and the moving of the start of the season from fall to summer.[8]

Effects[edit]

Fifteen teams competed in the 2006 WPFL season. The league has hundreds of players and is growing, but the league is more "semi-pro" as none of the athletes earn enough money playing football to make a living. However, the league still refers to them as professional athletes. Other leagues that connect to women's football include the United Football League, the Independent Women's Football League, the National Women's Football Association and the Women's Football League. Unfortunately, these individual leagues do not see eye-to-eye, so the possibility of forming one unified league is not likely.

Three-fourths of the teams that had played in the WPFL for the 2007 season have since defected to other leagues to begin play in 2009; many of them have moved to the IWFL, although some moved to the NWFA and a few others have joined the upstart Women's Football Alliance. Only two currently remain in the league, and as such, the league's future with so few teams would be in obvious jeopardy.

Because of the efforts of these organizations, some women's teams were allowed to play in some of the million-dollar domes and arenas originally built for men's teams. Noted stadiums have included the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, and some of the highly facilitated places in Detroit, Michigan.


Former teams[edit]

Championships[edit]

Year Champion Score Runner-Up
1999 Lake Michigan Minx 30-27 Minnesota Vixens
2000 Houston Energy 39-7 New England Storm
2001 Houston Energy 47-14 Austin Rage
2002 Houston Energy 56-7 Wisconsin Riveters
2003 Northern Ice 53-12 Florida Stingrays
2004 Dallas Diamonds 68-13 Northern Ice
2005 Dallas Diamonds 61-8 New York Dazzles
2006 Dallas Diamonds 34-27 Houston Energy
2007 SoCal Scorpions 14-7 Houston Energy

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]