Friday, August 22, 2008

Bringin' sexy back to table tennis

Well I guess the title is somewhat misleading in that the table tennis powers-that-be don't believe sexy was ever part of table tennis. Wait, let me clarify. They don't believe it was ever a part of women's table tennis. Not sure whether men's table tennis is sexy, whether the level of sex appeal is a concern, and whether the men's version is so popular they just don't have to think about these things.
Anyway, I have written about this before briefly, but there is, a year later, a renewed call to sex up women's table tennis by encouraging them to wear skirts and dresses. And it's not even subtle. It's a blatant if you wear skirts/dresses you will be more sexy, the sport will be more sexy, and it will attract fans argument. First, it's probably not true. Sexifying athletes has not been proven to draw in more fans.
And second, I think that while athletics and athletes are erotic, I don't think they are universally so. It's silly to say, well we just shouldn't talk about it because sex appeal doesn't belong in sports. It is in sports because bodies, and I would argue especially bodies in motion, are erotic. I, for one, do not find table tennis all that erotic. But I watch it--when it's on, of course, which is a whole 'nother conversation. And I will watch it whether or not people are wearing skirts. Actually I might not watch it in protest over the "encouragement" of skirts--we shall see. But eroticism is also a cultural construct and subject to individual tastes. I am sure there are fans who already find the game erotic and sexy. And they might even be people who would not find it as appealing with the donning of skirts. In other words, skirt does not always equal sexy.
Here are some interesting comments from fans who are not so fanatical about the idea (the second comment is supposed to be ironic, of course it trades in some heterosexism):
  • ...I'm not in favor of them being pushed or coerced into wearing outfits they aren't comfortable to play in. And how about the men? Why not bring in compulsory lycra bike pants instead of the baggy shorts many men wear currently?
  • I'm sure our female audience would appreciate it. And don't forget the umpires and referees - a little black and white striped skintight number with sequins would surely boost ratings."

1 comment:

Diane said...

The Brits will probably rush to put them in bikinis.