Too often, sports pages and programming are dominated by men -- men reporters and columnists, men colour commentators, men team owners, men coaches, men players. In fact, if you think about it, you rarely hear the term ''male athlete.'' It's a given.
Meanwhile, when it's a woman at play, it's often qualified with ''female'' or ''women's'' or something similar.
It's never ''men's hockey,'' except maybe at the Olympics. It's always ''women's hockey.''
But, hey, I am all for celebrating women athletes. The more, the better. It's just that, when it's done, it's all about celebrating the good-looking ones, or celebrating them in a sexual way.
Case in point: This lengthy magazine feature in The New York Times, published yesterday. (Reg. req'd)
The article itself, How Power has Transformed Women's Tennis, is a rather dry analysis of how women in the sport today not only have more clout, on and off the court, but also have more physical strength, more muscle, more back in that backhand.
“When Chrissie and Martina were winning 36 majors,” Billie Jean King, the tennis legend, talking pure performance, not personality, recalled of the Chris Evert versus Martina Navratilova rivalry of the late ’70s and early ’80s, “everyone was complaining about only two good players, no depth. Now, that was supposedly the golden age, and there’s no depth and only the Williams sisters today? Give me a break. My lord, what I would give to hit one ball like them.”
So far, so good right?
Except for this, an accompanying video/slide show showing sparkly, flowy,slow-mo shots of tennis champs such as Serena Williams, in action. Now, I am no prude as regular readers know, but I take exception to how these images are more shwing than swing.
Consider the video of Australia's Samatha Stosur. It barely shows her face, but spends plenty of time on her tubetop, in which she is clearly braless. Yes, I know. She chose her own outfit but, like most of the other videos, it has a vaguely soft-porn feel to it.
Would male tennis players get the same treatment?
Do women tennis players still feel they have to sell sexuality along with sport?
Would a Billy Jean King or Martina Navratilova (pictured up top, right), no matter how pumped up, have a chance in today's tennis world?
H/T to Francesca, who pointed this out to me on Facebook.