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February 17, 2005



I'm glad you didn't feel attacked, Hugo--it wasn't my intention.

I agree with you on ESPN as well, and I'm bothered by it because I'd like my kids to have more exposure to professional sports. But I don't want them to pick up this attitude that the most important thing about a female athlete is whether she will take off her shirt at the end of the match.


Amen to that, sister.


I loathe the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue but the ESPN thing doesn't offend me so much because it doesn't seem to treat men and women differently. With Sports Illustrated, you have a situation where female swimsuit models get more prominent coverage than female athletes in a magazine that is supposed to be about sports; that is clearly a double standard that implies that women's bodies are more interesting as eye candy for men than for what they can achieve athletically.

ESPN, however, is promising a Hottest Male Athlete poll so there doesnt seem to be the same implication that women are more valuable for their looks than anything else; it is just a light hearted look at what athletes (male and female) people find attractive.

Redneck Feminist

Yours is a very good point, CMC.

I love sports. Especially the Cubs. Carlos Zambrano is the man, in case anyone was wondering.

Sure, I often feel alienated by sports advertising. My fiancee does too. Notice that in beer commercials men are not exactly portrayed at their finest either. What my fiancee and I do is boycott any advertiser we don't like. It's our money and we're not obligated to give it to them.

And we often listen to the games on the radio rather than TV because Ron Santo is the man also. (Plus, have you ever noticed it's about half a second faster on the radio?)


The problem, CMC, is that Anna Kournikova received undeserved attention for her looks -- there are no mediocre male athletes celebrated solely for their gorgeousness. Beauty functions differently for men and women in sports. The "hottest" male athlete is very unlikely to be chosen from anything other than the ranks of the elite in his sport -- while some of the female nominees on ESPN's page are far from the top. (For example, picking high jumper Amy Acuff over the far superior Tisha Waller.)


I am a tennis freak. I love tennis, womens and mens. Lately I have been disgusted over the blantantly sexist coverage of the phenom that is Maria Sharapova. Her coverage overshawdows that of the excellent Lindsey Davenport (of whom the commentators can't seem to find anything to say about that isn't in regards to her weight, same for Capriatti, urgh!) and others who unfortunately just aren't as pretty as Maria. I will say one thing for her though, she's no creampuff Kournikova, the girl has got game! Plus, as I've mentioned before, i'm a big old hypocrite. I watched the australian open mens finals match between Hewitt and Safin with great glee, no shortage of beef cake there my friends. I even came up with an idea to counter all those icky panty shots of the female players that ESPN airs ad nauseum. For the next year I will be taping the mens matches, fast forwarding through them (after watching them throughout for the excellent tennis of course) and editing out all the mens shirt changes and crotch adjustments for my very own tape of tennis eye candy, which I will sell on the internet until I become a rich, rich woman. I'm not really going to do this, just thought it was a fun idea that some of you might appreciate.


Kelly, thanks for highlighting what a load of hypocritical rubbish all this whining is.


You're right, Hugo! I will await the ESPN Hottest Male Athlete poll with great interest to see if they choose any mediocre male athletes solely on looks. But probably not-- there really is no male equivalent to Kournikova.

Col Steve

Hugo - The E in ESPN is entertainment - no surprise that the network/magazine dabble in mildly related, but hardly "pure sport" (Tilt comes to mind) programming/features, especially when it is part of a larger media empire.

"The problem, CMC, is that Anna Kournikova received undeserved attention for her looks"

Look at how Anna got to where she is at now:
-Won four consecutive matches against top-10 players, a feat unprecedented on the women's tour, before losing to Venus Williams in the finals of the Lipton Championships.
-In 1998, was the first Russian woman to be seeded at the US Open since 1976. Became the ninth-youngest player in the Open Era (starting 1968) to defeat a reigning world No. 1 before her 17th birthday, upsetting Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals at the 1998 German Open -- the defeat marked Hingis' first professional loss to a younger player. Also defeated No. 5 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the third round and her ranking moved up to a then-career high No. 13. Defeated Steffi Graf in the quarterfinals of Eastbourne, becoming one of eight players who have defeated both Hingis and Graf.
-1997: Playing in just her fourth Grand Slam tournament, she reached the semifinals at Wimbledon. She lost to eventual champion Martina Hingis in straight sets after defeating Anke Huber, then-ranked No. 10, in the third round and Iva Majoli, then-ranked No. 5, in the quarterfinals.

In other words, she got attention because she demonstrated the potential to be one of the top players in her sport. She leveraged her physical appearance to create options for and maximize benefits to her - which, given her performance since 1998, was probably the best thing for her. Did she risk her sport and her peers? Do young males, usually minorities, risk harm to their peers by taking multi-million dollar payoffs as opposed to "getting that degree?" Kathy Ireland parlayed her SI swimsuit fame into becoming CEO of a company with a billion dollar in sales and being featured in Forbes.

"The most maddening part of all is that there really are no other viable alternatives. What kind of business model do you suppose these sites have that encourage overt sexism? Are they trying to alienate female consumers?

My queendom for a sports site that doesn't assume all male fans are horndogs - and that is savvy enough to realize that there are a hell of a lot of female fans out here, wallets in hand, waiting for the ESPNs of the world to stop pissing us off."

I suspect one that makes money. If there is a profit to be made, I'm sure someone will provide such programming. If more people behaved like Redneck Feminist, I'd bet networks and magazine would respond to consumer choice (note: The AL East is where the best action will be).

Anyhow, it seems "hottest" is en vogue this winter - I mean, it's not like PETA would use "eye candy" or scantily clad women to promote its product.


Hugo Schwyzer

Oh, Col. Steve, it's good to have you back --even if you needle me about PETA's use of sex to push it's no fur campaign. Sigh.

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