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Volume 70, Issue 128, Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sports

Women still play in a man's world

Pro Sports Fan

Arica Jefferson

In a world dominated by men and sports being the epitome of this notion, female athletes have to wonder if they are getting viewership because of the true interest of the sport or because in most of the sports, the women are dressed in short miniskirts and clingy tops. I can understand a woman wanting to remain feminine in a world that will immediately label her as a lesbian if she doesn't, but are the women being watched for the bronze or for the booty?

The pressure has been on for many years for women's sports to get more viewership from males and females as well as sponsorship. And an increase has definitely been made, but at what cost? I know it is easy to pick on Serena Williams, and nothing I say is an attack on her personality or her skill, but from the time Serena came onto the tennis scene in 1998, everything about her wardrobe has changed. 

When Serena had the braids and the beads, her skirts were three inches longer, and her shirts where not quite as tight. Her airtime increased after winning a doubles tournament with her sister in 1998 and then increased again after winning her first Grand Slam tournament in 1999. As Serena became more the talk of the town, the more scantily clad she dressed and the more the public cared about her fashion and less about her skill.

But Serena isn't the only one. In 1999, Brandi Chastain gave the public the most emotional sports photo of the year when she fell to her knees and gave a yell that rang throughout the stadium when the U.S. women's soccer team won the 1999 World Cup. The thing that boosted the pictures popularity was the fact that Chastain took her shirt off and showed her black sports bra. 

Months after that day, the women's soccer team was everywhere and so was that picture.

There are others in this same predicament: Anna Kournikova, Lisa Leslie, high-jumper Amy Acuff, snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler and believe it or not Jennifer Capriati -- yes the men love her too. 

These are all ladies who are great at what they do but get the attention because of how they look. I question if all women's sports decided to play covered up in loose clothing like the men do, would people still watch the sport and give them the attention they still get? I guess the world would never know the way people are dropping their clothes these days.
 

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