November 14, 2009

Too Sexy?

There was a fabulous Saturday Night Live skit from a few years back where Chris Kattan would play Antonio Banderas on a show entitled "The How Do You Say, Ah Yes Show."  At various moments throughout the 'show,' the bandleader, played by Horatio Sanz, would exhort Antonio to keep his shirt buttoned and scream, "No, no, it would be too sexy!"

This rambling brings me to a debate about women's college basketball and the issue of sexiness.  Jayda Evans of The Seattle Times asserted in a recent blog post that the Florida State University's women's basketball website (link here):
"...has blatantly...sexualized basketball.  Sure it may draw recruits...but what are they selling?  You do get a sense of the players as people on the site, yet there's not much basketball going on.  And if anything is placed before 'athlete' isn't it supposed to be 'student' not sex?"
Pretty clear, but not the first time that sport - even women's college sport - has used sex to sell tickets...and let's face it - that's what the goal is here.

For Evans, however, these sexualized images are problematic because they may "continue a different, damaging constant in women's hoops - homophobia."  Apparently, the drive to show women athletes as powerful beautiful, and strong, is a veiled attempt to only portray them as heterosexual.  Evans even cites the WNBA as guilty of this trend, holding sessions at rookie orientation about how to wear makeup and offering other fashion tips.

There's an interesting counter to this argument over at Women Talk Pro Sports, in a blog posting from Chantelle Anderson, a former college and pro basketball player.  I think it's obvious to link sports and sex and, while Anderson has her points, I wonder about the issue of implied hetero-normativity in these posters and websites.  (Is there a sport out there that avoids this implication?  The recent rollergirls trend, perhaps?  And no, I'm not talking about Drew Barrymore...)

In either case, underscoring this debate is the notion that a league or a team believes that producing these kinds of "sexy" images is the best way to sell tickets.  And that is an issue that won't go away - especially this year, when officials at Wimbledon pushed more attractive, but lower-ranked (lesser-skilled) players to Centre Court...and the Lingerie Football League was established.  Where is Horatio Sanz when you need him?

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