Posts Tagged 'BBC'

The Battle of the Babes

Controversey abound at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships

Controversy abound at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships

Here’s a fun little story.

The All England Club, the folks responsible for hosting the Wimbledon Championship, has admitted that a player’s personal appearance is a factor when considering who plays on the prestigious Centre Court.

Controversy sparked after No. 8-seeded Victoria Azarenka faced Sorana Cristea, seeded 28th, at Centre Court on Friday.

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

And what’s wrong with that? Well, top-seeded Dinara Safina and the No. 2 seed Serena Williams were both demoted to the modest outer courts, while Azarenka and Cristea happen to be freaking gorgeous.

Sorana Cristea

Sorana Cristea

All England Club Spokesman Johnny Perkins told The Daily Mail that, “good looks are a factor,” in deciding court schedule. Added a source from the BBC, “it’s advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court…Our preference would be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing ratings.”

This clearly is chauvinistic, unfair and a PR gaffe for the ages. The concept of sport relies on the premise that the better player is rewarded and celebrated. Sport should never be a beauty contest, and this strategy by the All England Club is unquestionably unjust.

But – off the court, field, rink, track, etc. – we do reward and celebrate the better-looking player almost uniformly. Don’t we?

Let’s play a game. Name five ugly “superstars.” Can you even name three? Here, I’ll spot you Randy Johnson (in his prime).  Ronaldinho is pretty ugly, too. Joakim Noah is borderline disgusting, but he’s certainly not a “superstar.”

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

The ugly truth is that our superstars are attractive. Most men haven’t even heard of top-seeded Dinara Safina, but they could tell you the beautiful Maria Sharapova (unseeded) has green eyes. Soccer hunk David Beckham is arguably one of the most popular athletes in the world, and yet Sport.co.uk has questioned whether the England national team will even need him in the 2010 World Cup.

I’m not an expert in what makes an attractive male, and I probably will never be one. Still, you can’t tell me that Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or Roger Federer is ugly, can you?

Sex appeals and beauty sells. Just ask Danica Patrick.

But to fans of sport, athleticism also sells. Teamwork sells. Strength sells. The will of a champion sells.

Here’s the point: Marketability (off the court) and Sportsmanship (on the court) should actually remain independent of each other.  True sports fans want to see the best, the fastest and the strongest compete – not the sexiest.

Need proof? Look no further than last Friday’s match between Azarenka and Cristea. As Kate Nocera at the New York Daily News put it, “Die-hard tennis fans who came to the event seemed to know better,” leaving the stadium at Centre Court virtually empty. My guess is people went to watch Safina and Serena and the rest of the elite play.

Besides, they probably already Tivoed the match (on HDTV) for when they got home.

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