For female athletes, it pays to look hotIf you’re a man in the world of sports it seems that to get attention you need to shatter records, bring home trophies by the truckload or make a comment about gays, as pitcher John Rocker once did.
Being a woman and doing all of the above will get you some attention perhaps, but you can bet the farm that no one will name a star after you ― which will surely happen with David Beckham or Tiger Woods, who make news simply by waking up. Being a female in the male-dominated sports world means that women must try something different to turn people’s heads.
How about putting on boxing gloves like Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali, and beating up another woman for fans who might rather watch women’s mud wrestling? Recently, Lee In-young, 31, made headlines in virtually every Korean newspaper for being the first female boxing champion on the peninsula. Then there is the old-fashioned way of walking around a boxing ring holding a placard a la Pamela-Anderson-style: People will immediately ask for your telephone number.
Another way to get noticed is to try out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad. A nice calendar of yourself hanging in every army barracks is guaranteed to bring comments. Or how about moaning and screaming on a tennis court, like Monica Seles?
Ranked only, say, 57th on the women’s tennis chart? Don't worry. Off-court performances like posing for Playboy count for a lot. Just ask Anna Kournikova. But it’s not only her. Ice skater Katarina Witt won two gold medals and Gabrielle Reece did amazing things on the volleyball court, but both have paid lip service to the line, “I am not sexualizing myself; I’m only showing that I’m an independent person.”
Yeah, right. Tell that to the guy on the street willing to cough up five bucks to see with his “eyes only” what that actually means.
The list goes on. Only recently, top-ranked Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam announced that she had agreed to compete in a men’s-only PGA event. She is scheduled to play at the famed Colonial golf tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, in late spring.
Why would the queen of golf and a future Hall of Famer say yes to competing with the guys? Because she is not getting the attention that she deserves and certainly not the money to go with it. All she did last year was win more than half of the 25 tournaments she entered.
On Feb. 11, Kim Ji-yun, a 27-year old guard for Kookmin Bank’s women’s basketball team, achieved a milestone in Korean sports by surpassing 1,000 assists. That’s a distinction only three Korean male players have achieved.
Maybe it was Kookmin Bank’s loss that day, but hardly anyone seemed to notice the feat. No big surprise since the game was not televised and barely rated a mention in the sports tabloids.
For female athletes to get noticed, the bottom line seems to be this: Play all right, but look hot. And if you moan, the louder you do it the better.
Setting a record won’t get a female athlete very far. As it is, many women have to market themselves not for what they have achieved, but for what males think of them.
by Brian Lee