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Thank you, Sports Illustrated!!!!!!!!!!! (From a women’s sports fan)

February 11, 2010 – 5:24 AM

By Laura Pappano

As a Sports Illustrated subscriber, I just want to offer a big “Thank You” for all the recent coverage of Lindsey Vonn – or should I say “un”-coverage?

If crazy feminists got all in a wad about last week’s cover photo of Vonn, I can only imagine what they think now that she’s on the slopes in ski boots – and a bikini!

Fortunately, I’m one of those fans grateful to see female athletes get any sort of attention, so seeing four Olympians – snowboarders Hannah Teter, and Clair Bidez and skiers Vonn and Lacy Schnoor – all oiled up for the SI Swimsuit issue looked like a gold medal move to me.

The way I see it, if we get enough guys paying attention (er stalking) their favorite sexy female athletes, we should see the Nielsen ratings for women’s sporting events take off. Wasn’t it Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, who pointed out that women should wear “more feminine” uniforms and tighter shorts to boost fan interest?

The logic is obvious: While people are busy checking out the players’ physical attributes they will OH BY THE WAY notice that, geez, there is some good athletic play going on. Build the fan base one string bikini at a time.

The matter, of course, is that if women are going play sports, they should be providing entertainment – and serious athletic performance is, apparently, not entertainment enough.

I say, apply the Powell Doctrine to sex appeal in women’s sports. Don’t just appear sexy on occasion, but – heck – be all about sexy. Swimsuit calendars – the Women’s Professional Squash Association just made one – should be mandatory for professional leagues.

College teams should dive in, too (pardon the pun). Why should men’s football and basketball monopolize media attention when young females are playing with balls? When I tune into ESPN2, I’d like to see a women’s college basketball game (at a time other than noon). So do up the hair, get that make-up straight and, for gosh sake, pare down the fabric on those uniforms!

It could even be a smart move to do what they did in the 1950s: Hold half-time beauty pageant among players, crowning one “Queen of the Court.” (way better than MVP’s) And maybe instead of having an NCAA playoff bracket, we could hold a giant beauty pageant with – yes! – a swimsuit competition. (Then we would really know which teams were worth watching.)

So, thanks, SI, for exposing readers to some skilled female athletes ahead of the Winter Olympics. I can hardly wait for your March Madness preview issue!

  1. 5 Responses to “Thank you, Sports Illustrated!!!!!!!!!!! (From a women’s sports fan)”

  2. Is the number of people interested in watching women’s sport really important? Isn’t the key thing getting more women involved in doing sport? Who cares if people watch?

    When we rumbling about how women’s sports get low TV ratings or that professional purses are smaller those for men we seem to be focusing on the exact things that (a) we can’t change, and (b) even if we could how does this increase women’s sport participation?

    Not everything the media does (or doesn’t do) is important. And the “Hey, look at me!” mindset they encourage is merely a sideshow to what’s really important.

    By Bill Price on Feb 11, 2010

  3. This year’s swimsuit edition of SI has, on page 30, a swimbracket- with the title “Move over March Madness. It’s time for February Frenzy, Baby! You can help crown the champ” OMG! Why does a sports magazine create so much hype about women NOT playing sports? One more way to keep women off the contender’s list.

    By Mandy on Feb 11, 2010

  4. I disagree that “any coverage is good coverage.” Profoundly. Because coverage that continues to diminish, dismiss and demean female athletes is not useful. It simply continues to shove female athletes into the same box that they’ve been shoved into since forever: Woman as Whore

    As a “crazy feminists” I hope to continue to upset you by drawing attention to the continuation of those stereotypes.

    By Helen on Feb 13, 2010

  5. THANK YOU, Laura, for your blog. You are absolutely correct in your comments. As an enlightened, heterosexual male women’s sports fan, I totally think it’s a great idea.

    Helen, you claim that coverage such as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is intended to “diminish, dismiss and demean” female athletes. Two questions for you:

    1. How do you know what the intent of such actions are?

    2. Do the athletes feel the same way? If the ladies are okay with that-and apparently they are as I am-then that is that. End of subject.

    By Edward on Feb 13, 2010

  6. Laura,
    Knowing the great work you do and write about, is this written with sarcasm? Nicole

    By Nicole LaVoi on Feb 17, 2010

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