Thursday, November 09, 2006

This is not equality

The year-end WTA championships are going on right now in Madrid. The matches are being aired on Vs (formally OLN--the network that covers the Tour de France and NHL hockey and whose owners/execs made it very clear that OLN was all about masculinity; not sure if there is a new vision for Vs).
So I was watching some of the coverage yesterday, not very closely as I was trying to multitask. That was why I was shocked when I heard the commentators say that male models were serving as the ball boys for the tournament. Over a hundred tried out for the gig usually filled by local teenagers.
Madrid is the same location where a men's Master's event that used female models was held a few years back.
Here is what the reporter of the above linked article wrote:
To be fair and equal, this year the women's championship tournament decided it would employ male models for certain ladies matches in the tournament.
This not a model of fair and equal that I would like to see perpetuated in sport.
Unfortunately the players have bought into this model of equality with Sharapova, Clijsters (my esteem for Kim has dropped dramatically), and even Henin-Hardenne all being excited by the idea.
Only Elena Dementieva has expressed some misgivings. She said the models have been focusing a little too much on the players and not enough on their jobs.
An exec at Hugo Boss noted that the models are not there "to outshine the players." But why the hell they are there is never explained.
This is just a gimmick to increase the audience which is sad because this IS the year-end championship and the number 1 spot is at stake and several of the players are back from fall injuries.
I want the audience for women's tennis to grow as well but having male models as ball boys is not the route the WTA should be taking.
[Note on the photo: this is the only photo I could find of the male model ball boys. When the Madrid Master's event of several years ago had female models there were far more pictures and their outfits were, of course, much more revealing and thus much more sexualizing. This man, though attractive, does not necessarily read as "model" the way the female models did.]

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