So sometimes I can be a little judgmental. Last week when I posted on the Hunky Dorys chip company in Ireland selling chips (and sponsoring men's rugby in the process) by using poorly outfitted female models in some costumed version of a rugby kit (<-- did I use this word right??) feigning rugby fierceness, I wasn't thinking too much about whether the people of Ireland would actually go along with this ad campaign. I assumed there would not be much uproar. This, of course, is based on my American perspective where I know such an ad may raise a few eyebrows (two of which would be mine) but would likely go largely uncommented upon.
And maybe there is not an uproar in Ireland. But there is this one sport columnist for Irish Times who did a very good job assessing the situation and chiding both Hunky Dorys and his professional colleagues and people in general. [He does note that some rugby officials might be not so pleased with the campaign by one of their sponsors as it counters the less "bestial" image rugby is going for.] I also learned what camogie and hurling are--bonus!
Here are some excerpts:
The reason Hunky Dorys didn’t have to think twice about descending into the world of dreary single entendre with their ad campaign is that women in sport are demeaned and diminished all the time, in terms of funding, in terms of coverage, in terms of attitude.
Hunky Dorys need to do penance by throwing many packets of crispy high denomination notes at sport for young women.
The sadness is that the attitudes are virtually all-pervasive and it is only when we are faced with an effrontery like the Hunky Dorys nonsense that we even go through the lip-service of pretending that we all take women’s sport terribly seriously.
We don’t cover women’s sport because people don’t watch them. And people don’t watch women’s sport because we don’t cover them and tell the stories. And there are too few stories to tell because there are too few funds and too few facilities and too few people of quality will to get involved in coaching and encouraging girls to take themselves seriously as athletes to fully explore their potential.
The Hunky Dorys debacle has provided us with an easy leg-up onto our high horses. We have galloped to the high moral ground where the air is thin yet satisfying. We haven’t really got the right to our indignation, however. Not yet.
So this last comment, which ends the column, is the one that got me thinking about righteous indignation. I think it's an important idea for all of us who comment upon sport to remember. We can sit here in the safety of our offices, our kitchen tables, our academic jobs (not that those are particularly safe these days), our favorite cafes and rail against the media and sportocracy but we should also be engaging in some self-reflection about what we are doing besides eruditely complaining.