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.”
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!