Let’s face it. No matter how much we try to ignore it, women’s sexuality is a huge part of North American culture.
Despite the huge improvements made by women in the world of sports, it appears as though sexing up women athletes has become more of a norm than an exception.
Is this a return to the Middle Ages, or is it a well thought out business plan?
One would assume that the president of the Federation International of Football Association (FIFA) would be a smart, business-savvy man. However, President Sepp Blatter caused an uproar in soccer communities worldwide two weeks ago.
He suggested that women’s soccer teams should wear tighter shorts and look more feminine in order to attract more attention and sponsors to their sport. What this comment filled with ignorance, or was it a well thought-out idea?
Blatter might not be completely out in left field. Despite its steady increase in participation in the past decade, women’s soccer is still light years behind its male counterpart in terms of popularity.
Men’s national teams have had a World Cup Tournament to compete in since 1930. The first women’s soccer World Cup was held 65 years later. Tight shorts or not, sexuality often took precedence over athletic ability in this sport.
At the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, American soccer player Brandi Chastain kicked the over-time winning goal, allowing her team to win the game.
However, she is known more for stripping off her jersey in celebration, revealing a sports bra. That picture, rather than her amazing exploit, graced the sports pages for days.
A few months later Chastain posed nude in Gear magazine.
That same year, the Australian women’s soccer team posed nude in a calendar as one of their fundraising efforts.
Although these stunts attract attention to the women themselves, who says it’ll attract attention to their sport?
“This is not the first time that women used sexuality to sell their sport,” Concordia Stingers’ women’s soccer coach Jorge Sanchez said.
“Anna Kournikova for example willingly used her sexuality to attract attention, but yet she’s not a very good tennis player. It’s too bad because it takes well-deserved attention away from the [female] athletes who are serious about what they’re doing.”
Some Blatter supporters believe that his comments may have been taken out of context.
However, it’s hard to believe that, considering that Blatter said “more feminine uniforms…tighter shorts, for example,” would attract larger crowds to women’s soccer matches. His comment was rather straightforward, so it might make people wonder how it could have possibly been taken out of context.
Women’s soccer star Kara Lang laughed at the idea. “I thought we were taking steps forward, and I don’t think that’s what we need to lift women’s soccer up,” Lang said.
“I think our continued performance, like what we’ve been giving, that’s what’s going to do it, not an impractical idea like wearing hot pants.”
Women aren’t the only ones to laugh at such an idea. In fact, some members of the opposite sex were offended by Blatter’s comment.
Student Adam Hubbard couldn’t believe the president of his favourite sport could suggest such an idea.
“I thought his comment was retarded,” the 22-year-old said. “I don’t watch women sports, but to say that if they looked ‘sexy’ or whatever is insulting to women because it further makes them looks like objects, and it insults me, saying we [men] will watch anything to see a girl in tight shorts.”
Unfortunately for women, there aren’t any serious professional teams like there are on the male side. Thus, there aren’t many women athletes to serve as role models, so it’s understandable that women’s sports aren’t as venerated as men’s.
Women’s sports do not receive as much funding as men’s, and the survival of their sports is more vulnerable. However, attracting attention to their sport by using women’s sexuality does not seem to be the answer.
Although it does govern both men and women’s soccer, FIFA, as do other sports organizations, still remains an old boys’ club.
“If Blatter was a real soccer person, he wouldn’t have said that.
People forgot about the 85,000 people who watched the women’s World Cup final in 1999, they only remember Brandi Chastain taking her shirt off,” Sanchez said.
“Some women athletes need to sex themselves up to get attention, but the more they do it, the more men will accept this practice and see it as the norm, not the exception. If they keep it up, it’ll become a vicious circle.”