February 5, 2010

Who Cares?!!?

The weekly Who Cares?!!? segment is back again, to chronicle the least cared about stories in sports.  So here we go.  As always, please vote at the bottom to tell me which story you could care least about this week.

(1) In just a couple of weeks, the country of Peru will debut its first Olympic Winter Games athlete.  When Roberto Carcelen, who hails from Lima, met his future wife in an online chat room and moved to Seattle, Washington, little did he know that love connection would eventually send him to the Olympics. Seven years ago when he relocated to Seattle and married his now-wife, Kate Clement, she encouraged the 38-year old former marathoner to take up cross country skiing.

How can you not root for this guy?

After watching the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Carcelen became determined to represent his country at the Games for the first time.  Asked why there isn't more Winter Olympic participation from Peru, Carcelen cited two reasons: first, he mused that the snow is at too high of an elevation in Peru for skiing, and second,
"We [Peruvians] take a different approach to life.  We kind of like living life in a good way.  With sports, we're not like other cultures.  We like food, wine, and partying.  We have an active community, but we like all things."
This is simply a guy you can't not root for.  He's attempting to grow the sport in South America and has used his own money to train and qualify - qualify, I might add, legitimately instead of accepting a free pass from the International Olympic Committee.  Watch for him at the Opening Ceremonies next week, you shouldn't be able to miss him, he'll be the guy from Peru.

Carcelen trained in the Andes, on his own dime.

(2) On Thursday, in an attempt to build hype for a quarterback coaching school in Delaware, a 13-year old committed to play football for USC.  Even though he won't be eligible for 5 more years - and the commitment is non-binding for both sides - there is a significant amount of YouTube video floating around of David Sills, prodigy of Steve Clarkson's Dreammaker Academy.  Further proof, perhaps, that college recruiting has just gotten silly.

Thanks to Sills, expect Steve Clarkson's tutoring fees to go through the roof.

(3) Finally, a big flap currently going down over at Womentalksports.com, where the issue for debate is United States Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn's cover shot for Sports Illustrated.  Here's the photo:

Now, here's the argument from University of Minnesota professor Dr. Nicole M. Lavoi:
"When females are are featured on the cover of SI, they are more likely than not to be in sexualized poses and not in action - and the most recent Vonn cover is no exception."
Lavoi has faced some heat for this assessment (from which you can draw your own conclusions), but what cannot be argued is that when women are featured in sports media, it is much more typical for them to be posing, rather than in action.  Is Vonn in action, above? Lavoi doesn't think so.  So when The Huffington Post suggests that this is just "whining" and the "sexy pose is also a skiing pose," Lavoi responded by noting that just because she is wearing skis, does not mean this is a natural skiing pose.  Consider that Vonn is not wearing her helmet, her hair is made-up, and at no point during a skiing run would any skier's head be turned completely 90 degrees to one side.  Furthermore, as Lavoi points out, because of the angle of the photo and its' placement on the cover, the first place your eyes turn is towards Vonn's rear and only later do they move towards her face.  Wouldn't that classify the image as objectifying?

This is a Vonn "action" shot.  The focus is on her face.  

In the end, Sports Illustrated is out to sell magazines.  Even Lavoi recognizes that, but the issue is that the overwhelming majority of female athlete portrayals points more towards their sexiness (see Serena Williams and Candace Parker on the covers of ESPN the Magazine), detracting from their incredible talents as athletes.

So, which is the sports story you care least about this week?

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