Tuesday 30 June 2009

Would you watch me if I took up boxing?

All you parents with little female budding sport stars had better make sure you spend just as much time on their beauty regimes as you do their sporting prowess.


Box office appeal is critical when you get to the top of your chosen sport.

Wimbledon 2009 has shown us that elite sport is all about style over substance, beauty over talent.

There were very few top ranked female tennis players who featured on Centre Court this week. Instead we saw some very attractive lowly ranked players. According to a spokesman from the All England Club, “a player’s attractiveness is a key factor to playing on Centre Court.”

Well of course it is, duh! Centre Court games are televised. And here was I thinking they were giving the underdogs a bit of exposure.

The television market knows what it likes. And it likes good looking players. How they play the game is secondary.

I am calling it Spornography (and if you don’t believe we need a new term for it, go watch some beach volleyball).

Given most females I know would never turn away from watching Andy Murray just because he isn’t as attractive as say Rafael Nadal, I canvassed a few males to get their thoughts on the subject.
Isn’t that what female sport is about? Eye candy with a bit of sport thrown in?”
“Why do females watch football, then? Not for the game I will guarantee.”
"Sexiness is pretty much all the women's game has going for it.”
“Sex sells.”
Yes, clearly I know some Neanderthals. However, in gathering this feedback I did discover a hidden boxing talent which saw the light of day. (And you don’t have to be pretty to make it to the top in boxing do you? Although....Ali was a damn pretty boxer wasn’t he?)

Thankfully, grand slam winners are still chosen on their sporting achievements. However, as Anna Kournikova proved, you don’t need to win a grand slam to be the richest player on tour. You can earn far more in sponsorship deals as long as you possess that certain marketable quality.
Are we, the television viewing public, really that shallow? Oh, I know we are. But do we have to be?

How does a person who hits a ball with a raquet (and who may or may not be blessed genetically) get to earn millions? Then again I guess it's the same as a model wearing somone else's clothes on a catwalk, or a Hollywood actor repeating someone else's words, or a football player kicking a ball around a field. Wouldn't we all be better off if we paid elite scientists millions (instead of the peanuts they get) to find a cure for Cancer or Aids?

Maybe if we didn’t feed the beast and value the superficial to such a degree, the world would be a happier, saner and healthier place.

I will be waiting until the finals to watch Wimbledon this year. I’ve always been a substance over style kind of girl anyway. One with a newly found left hook. You better watch it!

Note: Everyone who comments on this post gets an entry into June’s Giveaway (will post details of later). Yeah it will be beauty over substance to accommodate the masses....no, they'd already sold out of Wimbledon Centre Court Calendars, sorry.....market forces and all...


  1. I agree wholeheartedly! IT might be because I'm 1) not tall and blond and 2) not interested in doing or watching any sports, but I still think we humans ought to rearrange our priorities somewhat.
    Thanks for a great post!

  2. As a lowly scientist I completely support what you so eloquently say here. Now, if I manage to look a little Anna Kournikova-ish to my next NHMRC Grant Review panel meeting, I may just win that next research grant...

  3. Another great post, Lilly.

    I didn't realise Wimbledon was doing that. Sigh. It's so predictable and sad at the same time.

    Cheers and good luck with the boxing :)

    another regular person!

  4. Since I detest sports activities I rarely watch them... :) So I didn´r realize "they" were doing this. But this post will make me "see" it now. Sometimes I can just be so naiv. I thought it was about the sport!!

  5. Looks like things are out in the open now. Wimbledon was the last bastion of unchangeable tennis rules; white clothes, curtseying, genteel audiences, a deliberate downplaying of color compared to the , say French Open. But they now tolerate some of the outrageous costumes of the Williams sisters, that too on centre court. Huge plunging necklines which have nothing to do with your biceps action. Sports has been taken over by commercial interests and sponsors.

  6. Gosh that's such a shame, isn't it? I'm so glad my pastime of drawing doesn't rely on being oggled at!

  7. Of course I'd watch you do anything, Lilly.

    However - tennis ... Personally, I prefer to watch women's tennis. Sure, the eye candy is a nice bonus, but the skill involved is, I think, much greater. Power is just that, power and I don't see how anyone can return a 130-140 mph serve by anything other than good luck. Women though have to be technically good at the game in all its aspects, or they very quickly get wiped out by a more skilful opponent.

    Beach volleyball though is something else and still my favourite... ;) (G)

  8. I was trying to find ways to not agree with you... but I just can't. Its so true! Although I consider it such mindless entertainment at times that I never truly think about why something is being shown the way it is. Reality tv largely strikes me the same way. Reality that is largely contrived and shallow with just enough orchestrated drama to liven it up a bit... and yet I am as guilty as the next person in watching on occasion.

  9. I love the way you phase things Lilly....I can just picture spornography in action ... just made me LOL this AM and that's not easy for my caffeine deprived mind .

  10. Great post! You've hit the nail on the head when you describe how we seem to value looks over soul in the West.

  11. I just feel the need to chime in - even though my football is not what you consider football - I most DEFINITELY watch the game because I love it and know it. If there's eye candy involved, all the better...but I'm a passionate female fan of it.

    As far as the rest....you totally hit this spot on.

  12. I do watch US football, but only when my team is playing (Saints from New Orleans). It's a spirit thing and it's fun to share with Greg. Otherwise, I'm not one to watch sports much.

    I agree with this post - there's a lot of eye candy, not just in sports, but just about in anything on TV. How often do you see people who aren't models on TV? And those who aren't models are on shows like, "Biggest Loser"

    You would think we were beyond the eye candy stage, but it seems society is stuck in that frame. It's sad.

  13. I don't watch tennis at all. But Andy Roddick is hot.

  14. oooh I love me some tennis. I could have been a contender had I found sponsorship..YES, this I know for a fact..only bragging you will hear me do..LOL

    I don't watch football for the butts..I do watch it for the game. I know I am strange like that.

    Ali's daughter was a beautiful fighter..her name is on the tip of my tongue..oh well, she's still beautiful!

    Lilly I would watch you if you were just crossing the street :-))

  15. Yes, I am back to share a lil dar story. When I went off to college to the flat lands of the delta.. Delta State.. I joined the baptis studen union and I met couple of people told I love to play tennis. They said "right" so they introduce me to the Tennis Star of the tennis team. He introduced him self as Jimmy Conors..I introduce myself as Chris Everett. LOL so after some smack talk from him I challenged him...high noon on Saturday at the courts..it's on! High Noon in the delta means the court is at least 130 degrees..really!..Well, I mopped the court with the dude..6 to 0 people were speechless also him.. we had a nice crowd too...I never saw him again..what did I do so wrong..LOL

  16. Quite honestly, I see nothing wrong with broadcasting as much of Anna Kournikova as possible. In fact, I consider it to be brilliant marketing. For the only thing more boring than watching a tennis ball go bouncing back and forth is watching a soccer match! Of course, I realize that one must be a manly man like me to understand such things.

    (Legal Disclaimer: The author of this comment had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek during the posting of it.)

  17. this is just amazing! I guess its all about the sponsors now. Companies who pay big money want the players who endorse their products to get the most media attention and of course, they would only select players who look good on camera! What a vicious circle!
    Yup, I guess I'll wait for the finals too! Good luck on the boxing! Let me know which channel you'll be featured in! ;)

  18. Well, I am glad to read about people who are into skilss over looks! I just might be a rockette after all! You know I always wanted to dance like that. . . but I'm vertically challenged, all five feet of me, with bird legs. And you gotta have those long sexy legs that come all the way up to your neck to be a Rockette!
    However, after this post, I'm thinking there is still hope!

  19. I firmly believe that our gender makes it all possible by allowing it to happen. By wearing skimpy little bikinis to play volleyball. Using sex to sell our abilities is so frigging common, it's embarrassing.

    This weekend we were tubing down the river, a very popular spot with literally a hundred people at any given time, and there on the banks was a young lady in nothing but a g-string playing around in the shallow water for her male friend to photograph her.


    We are so much more than we give "ourselves" credit for.


  20. LOL, Lilly!! That is so funny!

    Do you think they amplify the grunting sounds??? ;O)


  21. Yes spornography (it could catch on...can you copyrite it? :) ...Anyways, Sporn or Spawn... that's what keeps the human race from becoming extict. Sporn is the nearest to animal mating dances we get - tennis doubles...(apart from some distant rituals) So we can't avoid it. So there!

    please can I have a picture of you doing a Hilary Swank?
    ps: I'll swap you a Rudolf Nureyev for it.

  22. I know I was disgusted to find out they do this. It is a sporting event for chrissakes not a beauty pageant. Now after looking at the TV and press for days on end about Michael Jackson I am convinced the world is crazy.

    Seriously what is wrong with us that we think its ok for the media to publish images of his dead body, images of his children, transcripts of his autopsy report, the views of every hanger on imaginable and worse still the lies and sepculation of trashy journalists. I remember you said you never bought another magazine after Heath Ledger died and I am with you on this. I will never buy another newspaper or magazine again. And TV viewing is also going to be seriously curtailed starting with the news. We all need to get back to the real world not a fantasy world that the media and Hollywood create for us.

    After that rant, great post Lilly. Rhonda is so right about this topic. So right.

  23. Well, needless to say, I agree with you totally, Lilly. I've been so disgusted with the media for so many years now and it just gets worse. I haven't bought a magazine in I don't ever remember how long, we don't have TV and yet everywhere you look -- at the grocery store, the pharmacy! I even stopped the newspaper. If there is something I feel I need to know I can find it on the computer -- but I find it, not the other way around. Great rant and post, Lilly, you go girl!

  24. I suppose in Hawaii, that's why Michelle Wie got her huge deals. She wasn't winning much but she got all kinds of endorsements. There are some other young golfers who are doing well but they don't get an iota of the attention Wie does.

  25. Ohh 2hrs of getting ready for soccer is almost as important as playing the game! Trust me, because as you know not only do I use the name SoccerMom I really am one and I can tell you even if our girls can't win they always all look good! LoL

  26. So true. As long as we focus on the external things, give them more value than they really have, as just things to make our external lives more “comfortable,” then we will never be able to focus on the INTERNAL RICHES that we all have available if we will just look inward and see those ABUNDANT RICHES.

  27. So true. As long as we focus on the external things, give them more value than they really have, as just things to make our external lives more “comfortable,” then we will never be able to focus on the INTERNAL RICHES that we all have available if we will just look inward and see those ABUNDANT RICHES.

  28. Another good post, Lilly. I don't watch sports or participate, and this is the first I've heard that female athletes have to look like cheerleaders. (Don't get me started on cheerleaders.) I would watch you if you took up boxing.

  29. Lilly, I think fans watch on almost as many different levels as there are fans. I think fantasies play a role. Is it wrong to admire a great fit body?

    I don't know where the line crosses from admiring to exploiting.

    I'm not sure if the world of money will ever make sense. I find it interesting that this strange/unfair? value system continues after death. Many dead celebrities make more in a year than most in a lifetime.

    you can't take it with you but

    Interested in your opinion.

  30. Oh - forgot to mention that picture you posted - they were just focusing on the smiley face racket - right?
    Did you even notice it?

  31. "Spornography" Great term. Trademark it and put it on tee shirts and I bet you'd sell a bundle.

    I'm not a huge sports fan but my husband is. I certainly don't keep him company at games to watch sweaty guys-- cute or otherwise.

    As for the girls playing tennis in center court- It's shameful that best players aren't featured on tv.

    And don't get me started on beach volleyball. WHY are those girls wearing tiny bikinis?!?!?!

    GREAT post, once again!

  32. It's kind of ironical justice that the only ones left in the fray now are the 'substantial' ones - Venus, Serena, Dinara and Elena. The babes have been blown away!

    I love to read about your verbal sparring, so i will definitely watch you boxing!

  33. Sucharita is right talent rises to the top eventually. But these lower ranked ladies were sure pleasant to look at, while they lasted in the competition.

  34. Hi Lilly...finally getting to stop by after not feeling good for a few days. Hope you are doing well. Loved your art and left you a note on it! *hugs*

  35. @ The DecoDetective – yes so do I – we need a wakeup call.

    @ Mervat – you my dear are perfect the way you are. Thank you for doing such worthwhile work!

    @ Carolyn – yes it is a big sigh and yes Wimbledon organisers are backtracking now...

    @ Betty – it’s never about anything but money – you think we would have learnt our lessons.

    @ Ugich – yes great comment – it’s all about the commercial interests and people are commodities.

    @ Sam – when you are really famous watch yourself!! LOL

    @ cjw666 – I was waiting for your response. So you watch women’s tennis for the skill factor and beach volley ball for the entertainment factor. You live in a warm climate don’t you – surely you could park yourself on the beach with a pair of binoculars for that kind of view and get a tan at the same time. Lol!!

    @ Vicky – I actually read somewhere when the economy gets worse we like our sport and entertainment even more so to give us a reprieve over what really ails us. It’s all started in the war apparently. Sport became a great unifier. I think we have got the whole reward thing way out of whack though. But that won’t change I daresay.

    @ Julie – Spornography – yes I should copyright that word.

    @ Peggy – you do know every time you see luscious women playing sport in the briefest of gear while their male counterparts are more sensibly dressed you will think of that word, spornography!!

    @ LadyFi – soul – you said it. That I why I do not believe atheists exist. Everyone honors a God – mostly money and material possessions.

    @ Good on you Tami – I am with you the sporting prowess first and the cute guys second. All athletes are good to watch and inspiring.

    @ Aleta – this was interesting. In the US you have to be super good looking to be on TV – just look at your soaps. BUT if you are in the UK you don’t. And Australia is in between and more like the USA. That is a great point.

    @ Kristina – yes Andy is a lovely young guy!

  36. Yes read this NEWS today...

    I always dreamed of watchg Wimbledon in center court.. but for tennis not for beauty... I hope only deserved ppl get to play in CC...

  37. Everything in balance I agree. Clearly the biggest sporting market is males. So males are catered for with this kind of spornography which I agree, you should trademark!!!! Brilliant word!

  38. I just google the term spornography and there is a computer game called Spore which people have used to make pornography - so a few people named that Spornography. But not used in the sports context it seems. I am sure an entrepreneur would make something of it.

  39. http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/people/anna-kournikova-in-nightclub-fight-20090702-d5tg.html

    I thought of you when I read the above news story, Anna Kournakova was involved in a fight in a club. So she is good looking, a tennis player and can also box.....

  40. Lilly, are you familiar with the old Black & White TV Program, "THE TWILIGHT ZONE"...One of the Greatest Episodes was one called "EYE OF THE BEHOLDER".....it is about what is beautiful and what isn't and it is BRILLIANT....Go to HULU.COM and see if they have that episode. It is a very very powerful one and addresses the whole thing of what is acceptable Beauty and what is not....And they banish the "UGLY" to a place of isolation because hey are totally unacceptable. We see this woman ALL bandaged and we don't see the doctors or nurses working on her but we "get" that she is very very disfigured.
    That is all I'll say. I don't want to ruin it for you....!
    Reading this post of yours this Episode vame to mjnd immediately!

  41. Old Lady of the Hills - brilliant I am going to go find it. Thank you for sharing that!!

  42. They're starting to look all a bit Barbie Dollish though. You get an average looking girl and all of a sudden people start saying awful things about her looks. So much for 'sport' eh!?

  43. @ Darsden – you must post about your tennis sometime soon. I loved your tennis story and you wiping the court with that guy. Woo hoo. Do you still play? It’s a great game!

    @ Fish Hawk – he he, very funny! Love your Legal Disclaimer. What is that in case your wife finds my blog and your comment?

    @ Roshni – yes I think it is all about sponsors – you go it in one. Advertising $s.

    @ Pastor Sharon – I think you would make a great Rockette. You could dress like that while giving your sermons. That should make the congregation stand up and take notice. I am sure you don’t need that though from reading your blog.

    @ Rhonda – you are right and that story is horrible. Stupid girl.

    @ Juls – I heard Chris Evert talk about those grunting sounds – she thinks they do it before they execute the shot as a way to put off their opponent. I think they were going to ban it but Maria S is still doing it at Wimbledon.

    @ Christine – Spornography – yep.

    @ Soul Merlin – I think you may make a better Rudolf then I would a Hilary. Besides I would worry about breaking my nails, lol!!

    @ Sarah – I agree reality is so much better than fantasy anyway.

    @ Sylvia – you don’t have TV – I admire that Sylvia. Then again, I like the way you think. Inspirational.

    @ Kay – yes I know of Michelle. That would be why because of her appeal factor. Good luck to them but it’s sad for some poor person who is not blessed with looks though. That’s life.

    @ The Mind of a Mom – two hours to get ready, lol. Oh my!

    @ Banoffi – now that is deep....and true.

    @ SugarCain – Cheerleaders. Now we have them here for football too. Russell Crowe the actor bought a football team and threw out the cheerleaders and put in a marching band. He thought they were not suitable for family entertainment. Kudos to him.

    @ Lisleman – sorry I could not get back to you and I have yet to visit everyone’s blogs as well. No there is nothing wrong in admiring a fit body. All elite sports people have them. This is a little different. They are selecting players to be televised who have prettier faces even if they are not the best players. That is a little perverse. Interesting about dead celebrities. I am sure it will be the case with Michael Jackson too.

  44. @ Joanna - wouldnt it be great to have time to do these things. I would love sitting in a corner coming up with concepts. You advertising brain must be like that also.

    @ Sucharita - yes the verbal sparring will turn into verbal something else if I am not careful lol!

    @ Megan - too, too funny!

    @ Stefan - well you have nothing to complain about then, lol

    @ Paris - thanks for dropping by and glad you are feeling better.

    @ CM-Chap - thanks for stopping by. I hope yu get to watch a game on Centre Court some time.

    @ Magee - balance, yes thats what my grandmother always said. About everything come to think of it.

    @ Annette - you are right. The average normal girl who is still very pretty cannot compete. It must be so hard for them to be judged on their looks when they are there to be judged on their tennis abilities.

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. @Lilly: Of course, but there is no need whatsoever for the binoculars.

    However, I really do mean what I said about women's tennis :)


Thanks for your comments.