Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Women's History Month

Nothing pleases me more than a snarky comment about ESPN's special women's history month programming. (More on the specifics of that in a moment.)

After noting the good: a profile of Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long; blogger Ray Frager of the Baltimore Sun says this:
Danica Patrick also will be featured, presumably to show how women athletes have been empowered to sprawl across a sports car in a bikini for a magazine photo shoot even after winning an event at their sport's highest level.
Love it!

So, yes, ESPN is engaging in some special programming for women's history month. We could say, yeah, they're not going to sit back on the fact that they cover women's March Madness. Or we could say--hey--what about the other 11 months of the year, guys? Pick your level of cynicism.
I had been tuning into Sports Center in the mornings in an attempt to get some clue about how to fill out my brackets this year. I never saw a story about women in the line-up. (This was before the conference tournaments started.)
Anyway what the network has planned includes an hour-long documentary called Her Story which is being narrated by Hannah Storm. There will also be shorter "vignettes" interspersed throughout programming during the month that features female athletes. I believe the special OTL on concussions in women has already aired. (Missed it, though I would have liked to see how they treated the subject.)
The website will have a dedicated page--just for the month, of course--that includes a collection of various content from other sites. And it will provide fan forums and opportunities for female athletes to share their stories.

Also of note is the upcoming cover of ESPN the magazine that feature a pregnant Candace Parker. She was always slated to be on the cover but the pics were done before her pregnancy was revealed and so they scrapped those photos and did the shots of her in a white dress cradling her pregnant belly. ESPN peeps are all "we don't know this is going to go over. Women on our covers are rare. They don't do well." They are worse than SI! But they took a risk because, after all, it's women's sports month, they say. Umm...not quite guys.

My immediate reaction to the cover was "oh it's another Sheryl Swoopes moment" intended to display the femininity of one of the top players in the game. To make her less threatening. (After all Parker was at the center of one of the most infamous WNBA brawls to date!)

I am surprised though that ESPN did it given that their readership is young men. This is not quite praise. It's more like a "to be continued..."

In what may be some kind of bizarre women's history month tribute and in this curious slideshow trend my oh-so-favorite website the Bleacher Report has compiled the 20 sexiest female athletes. No photo of the athlete actually doing her sport, of course. 'Cause that's just not sexy despite the claim in the intro that because men love sports and because men love women...well you know the argument--repeatedly proved false. Sexy women do not make men like women's sports more. (Also, regarding the poker player--poker isn't a sport.) The commentary that goes along with some of the pictures is also a little disturbing--lots of sexual innuendo. Example: the need to talk about the table tennis player's proficiency with a paddle. Lovely.

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