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Why do sports use women as eye candy?

22 Comments

If they stopped employing invariably young and pretty women to parade around, often in short skirts or less, would motor racing, cycling and boxing die?

Of course not.

So why do these and other sports feel compelled to feed fans eye candy?

Ultimately, by doing so, they are saying that among the best uses for a woman is to look hot. Sports that don't give women equal opportunities but encourage them to flash a bit of leg are suggesting that their place is to be the sidekicks of victorious men, instead of being victorious and competing themselves.

"Let's face it, sex does sell. We all know that. That's what advertisers use and marketing companies use, because it just sells," said Ross Bennett. He designed the outfits — red cowboy boots, short white skirts, white tops with deep necklines — worn by the so-called "grid girls" at last year's Formula One race in Austin, Texas.

"These women are being photographed by thousands of people, all day long, and stared at kind of like a piece of meat. I hate to say it that way, but like, you know, they are being used as eye candy and attracting people to the track, along with the drivers."

Are male attention spans so pitifully short that they lose their appetite for sports that don't offer side orders of female beauties to snort at?

Boxing fans, for instance, can't talk among themselves for 60 seconds while fighters take breathers? They need women in bikinis and heels to entertain them and help them track the rounds because they can't count from one to twelve themselves? How sad.

Cyclist Peter Sagan inadvertently raised such questions when he pinched the bottom of a "podium girl" at the Tour of Flanders, a race over cobbled roads and hills in Belgium. Photos caught him red-handed with a cheeky smile as he squeezed. She couldn't see the grope coming because she had her back to him and was otherwise engaged doing her duty — planting a kiss on the cheek of race winner Fabian Cancellara.

Sagan, who was on the podium as the race runner-up, later realized how inappropriate his gesture was.

"I never should have done it. I'm so sorry," the 23-year-old, looking genuinely contrite, said in a YouTube video. "I promise to act more respectfully in the future."

The woman, Maja Leye, tweeted that Sagan's pinch "was wrong" and "I hope this never happens again." But she also said she accepted his apologies — so no lasting harm seemed to be done.

Still, why are women put in such positions? With an audience and cameras watching, Leye could hardly have whipped around and given Sagan the slap he deserved.

Podium girls, grid girls, flower girls, race queens, pit babes — the nick-name and hemline lengths vary from sport to sport but the job description is fairly universal: look good, pose for photos, and make men look attractive and successful by applauding and kissing them before they celebrate by spraying everyone with champagne. How phallocentric.

"We haven't found anything better," said Laurent Lachaux, marketing director at ASO, organizer of the Tour de France, explaining why the race employs 50 or so young pretties to hostess and for the daily podium awards.

"It doesn't pose a problem to the riders — quite the contrary — or to the sponsors, who are happy to have such smiling faces promoting their image," he said. "For us, it's not backward. Quite the opposite. It shows off the freshness of the young hostesses. That's good. It's part of the tradition."

It can — more rarely — work both ways. Olympic cycling champion Marianne Vos said she got kisses from a podium boy when she won a race in the Netherlands, the Ronde van Drenthe, last month.

"You get the flowers on the podium and you have to get the flowers from somebody and it's nice, for us, if it's a handsome guy or, for the guys, if it's a pretty girl. For me, that's the tradition, that's no problem," she said.

That's certainly one view. And the point here isn't to be a sour puss and pretend that a bit of wanted attention from the opposite sex isn't pleasant.

But it grates to see sports that haven't given female competitors an equal shake putting women on parade for their looks and not their athletic abilities. If you type "girls" and "Formula One" into Google, for instance, you'll not read about a woman competing in that sport this season — because all the drivers on the grid are men — but you will see plenty of photos of women wearing not very much.

It's archaic and it's unfair. It's also a safe bet that if women ran sports, instead of the other way around, they would be far too civilized to make men parade around for their pleasure.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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if women ran sports, instead of the other way around, they would be far too civilized to make men parade around for their pleasure.

Sez you.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

sez they indeed lol, there's far worse ways of making money by looking good. If a woman is dealt the right cards at birth and can do it, then why not, it's not like they're forced to do it and maybe .. just maybe they dont mind the attention of a whole crowd drooling at them even if it's a well known fact that no woman wants to be the center of attention (insert sarcasm here)

4 ( +4 / -1 )

Have you ever asked a woman why she watches US football. Come on, sports are all about the spectacle. Wether big muscular men in tight cloths bashing into each other. Men and women crashing cars. Women in bikinis playing volley ball. Give me a break.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sagan was obviously wrong in what he did, but why can we not acknowledge the physical beauty of either gender. That is something I'll never understand.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Boxing fans, for instance, can’t talk among themselves for 60 seconds while fighters take breathers? They need women in bikinis and heels to entertain them and help them track the rounds because they can’t count from one to twelve themselves? How sad.

What's said is, how the author thinks that all the male fans at a boxing match think thhe crowd is there because of the ring girls. I wonder how many spectators would be at a "boxing match" if these ring girls just walked across the ring carrying numbers without any boxing going on. On the other side of that, if there was no ring girls, I seriously doubt that there would not be any less spectators there either. Boxing, Formula One, Cycling, etc., is what sells, not sex.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It’s archaic and it’s unfair. It’s also a safe bet that if women ran sports, instead of the other way around, they would be far too civilized to make men parade around for their pleasure.

Lulz.

If they were in charge, they would just parade themselves. Also why is it "unfair"? since when were these practices about fairness/unfairness? let alone archaic?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Because people like watching women, and that includes women.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

As my fellow posters have said, women do it all the time to men. In fact they start it when they're kids, saying "Johnny is cuter than Billy, so let's cheer for his soccer team." It is also something that has been going on since time began. Who did the empress of Rome get as her sexual play thing? Who else? The strongest gladiator, of course.

I wonder if John Leicester has ever pondered why people watch sports in the first place. Well, it distracts them from their daily lives, it gets the pulse racing and it gives them an excuse to shout for joy, cry in their beer, kiss or punch people they don't know, and so on. Sport provides people with a culturally accepted emotional prompt, outlet, or excuse to do a myriad things they wouldn't normally do.

With all of this hormonal manipulation going on, why is it so necessary to keep titillation out of the mixture? I don't think Mr. Leicester has answered that question besides saying that it is "unfair," something which it demonstrably is not.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

“These women are being photographed by thousands of people, all day long, and stared at kind of like a piece of meat. I hate to say it that way, but like, you know, they are being used as eye candy and attracting people to the track, along with the drivers.”

Yeah, they must hate doing it. We should stop forcing them.

Are male attention spans so pitifully short that they lose their appetite for sports that don’t offer side orders of female beauties to snort at? Boxing fans, for instance, can’t talk among themselves for 60 seconds while fighters take breathers? They need women in bikinis and heels to entertain them and help them track the rounds because they can’t count from one to twelve themselves? How sad.

It's obvious the writer hates sports. He was more than likely bullied by kids who played sports at school and has to write like this to feel like he's getting back at them.

Podium girls, grid girls, flower girls, race queens, pit babes — the nick-name and hemline lengths vary from sport to sport but the job description is fairly universal: look good, pose for photos, and make men look attractive and successful by applauding and kissing them before they celebrate by spraying everyone with champagne.

And the problem is???

How phallocentric.

I could say the same about the writer. I've never thought that the champagne bottle was a penis and the champagne itself man-milk.

It can — more rarely — work both ways. Olympic cycling champion Marianne Vos said she got kisses from a podium boy when she won a race in the Netherlands, the Ronde van Drenthe, last month. “You get the flowers on the podium and you have to get the flowers from somebody and it’s nice, for us, if it’s a handsome guy or, for the guys, if it’s a pretty girl. For me, that’s the tradition, that’s no problem,” she said. That’s certainly one view. And the point here isn’t to be a sour puss and pretend that a bit of wanted attention from the opposite sex isn’t pleasant.

So, the writer thinks "the point here isn’t to be a sour puss and pretend that a bit of wanted attention from the opposite sex isn’t pleasant", when it's a woman athlete getting kissed by a "podium boy".

But it grates to see sports that haven’t given female competitors an equal shake putting women on parade for their looks and not their athletic abilities.

Because women's sport isn't anywhere near as popular as men's. You can't say that it's not a problem when the women athletes get kissed, but it's "sad" when it's the other way round, when most sport watched by people is mens sport.

If you type “girls” and “Formula One” into Google, for instance, you’ll not read about a woman competing in that sport this season — because all the drivers on the grid are men — but you will see plenty of photos of women wearing not very much.

Well, this just shows how the writer is thinking. Who searches for "girls" in sports? I thought we referred to them as "women" or "ladies". Calling them "girls" as the writer is doing is demeaning.

It’s archaic and it’s unfair. It’s also a safe bet that if women ran sports, instead of the other way around, they would be far too civilized to make men parade around for their pleasure.

No, they'd probably have the common sense to know that sex sells and the only people who have a problem with how things are now, are dumb writers who don't know what they're talking about.

What's said is, how the author thinks that all the male fans at a boxing match think thhe crowd is there because of the ring girls. I wonder how many spectators would be at a "boxing match" if these ring girls just walked across the ring carrying numbers without any boxing going on. On the other side of that, if there was no ring girls, I seriously doubt that there would not be any less spectators there either. Boxing, Formula One, Cycling, etc., is what sells, not sex.

Yeah. I couldn't care less if they were there or not. I don't even look at them. I used to. When I was 13.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I watch motor sports for the sports, not the girls

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Probie, Excellent breakdown!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@John Leicester

It's archaic and unfair.

Get a life.

Writing this as I sit near 2 secretaries who love the attention they receive. Guys and gals where I work get on just fine and the flirtation is kept to sensible levels. Looking forward to lunch together tomorrow.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They do it because these women allow themselves to be used as eye candy. Nothing wrong with that. Its their choice completely.

The same way that women allow themselves to be used as emaciated walking clothes horses to model new fashions, or the same way they allow themselves to be used as blow up dolls in the sex industry, or the same way they allow themselves to become highly educated world leaders, politicians and inspirations to those around them.

Its their choice. As long as their are women who choose to do this, they will continue to do this. They are not being forced.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I want some male eye candy!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

JOHN LEICESTER you're a tit

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bcoz sex sells

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Because some sports are SOOOOO boring. I wonder why Baseball doesn't have girls walking around. JUst a thought -^_^~

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is a good topic but poor article. There isn't any substance to it. If you want to talk about sexism in motor sports and the like, do some research, pull some facts and make your point. This was just a babbling article and a waste of space.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Lol the girls are unneccesary. But like most of these guys said. Not like anyone forced em...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Women just ARE eye candy, whether they are playing sports, sitting on the train...whatever. I am genetically hard wired to think so. I don't apologise for that. I'm a fan...an admirer. Looking at healthy, fit specimens of the opposite sex performing? Yep.

Particularly the Volleyballers.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

it is not just sports where women are being showcase it is every where in business each commercial on TV doing the same thing,even if they are selling a tooth brash they need to show a women's body and it goes on

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Takuma Sato won his first Indy race today. Great job Takuma!

Guess what, three beautiful California girls stood behind him on victory lane.

http://www.indycar.com/News/2013/04/4-21-Sato-wins-at-Long-Beach

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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