Female Fans

Women Not Big Fans of Pro Sports, and Editors Still Use Sex to Sell Reporting to Men

This infuriates me. Not the report on this study, which I found interesting, if not surprising, but the stupid decision to slap a cheesecake photo of a cheerleader at the top. It’s so damn hard to get any respect, I swear it is. Go ahead. I’ll wait while you click through.

Professional cheerleaders are incredible athletes, that much is indisputable. But they’re also eye candy for boys. That’s the main reason they’re paid (poorly, I would bet) to be there on the sidelines of pro sporting events, clad in tiny little sparkle-studded fairy skirts (like the one in the photo on that article, my God, are we all twelve?) and halter tops. Sigh.

The study suggests that women make up a small minority of pro sports fandom because we are more interested in events as social gatherings, places to connect with friends and enjoy the party-like atmosphere. And you can find a respectable write-up of the article reporting on the study (I know, that’s twice removed) at After Atalanta, a blog dedicated to discussions of gender and sports, but I could hardly get past the photo when I clicked through to the Ottawa Citizen to read the article. Who the hell’s idea was that?

And there was only the lamest attempt to connect the image with the article (which has absolutely nothing to do with cheerleading as a sport) with the caption “Cheerleaders are the ultimate fans, right?” One might think (if one were a complete idiot) that the behemoth Getty Image site had no pictures of female fans at a sporting event, or male fans at a sporting event, or ticket sellers in front of a line with mostly men, or pro athletes (heaven knows there aren’t many pictures of that subject matter), or anything related to the actual content of the article.

I’m reduced to typing expansive profanities and resolutely hitting the backspace key.

Somebody please douse me with the contents of the drink cooler before I combust.

Image credit: Photocapy on Flickr (Gasp! With Creative Commons licensing! Anyone can use it! For free! Ok, I’m done snarking now. Maybe.)

, , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to Women Not Big Fans of Pro Sports, and Editors Still Use Sex to Sell Reporting to Men

  1. Ashley Sue Allen September 6, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    I am with you! I hate the use of sex to sell products… from sports to yogurt, it’s all, usually without merit, got a hooch-approach at getting consumers’ attention. The question they need to ask is if they are KEEPING our attention and actually attracting us to the product or if their sexualized commercial gets an eyebrow raise then blown off.

    As far as sports go, I am so glad my team (go Steelers!) doesn’t have cheerleaders! They have a TREMENDOUS fanfare and without cheerleaders. No criticism to cheerleaders ~ I once was one and loved it, best shape of my life ~ but you don’t have to have them for a great fanfare.

    PS. You are right. They are paid crappy. Friends of mine who cheer for pro get $50-$60 per game. They practice 20 hours a week, workout endlessly, and get enough money to cover a tank of gas or so for their spirit. They just do it because they love it (and not the sports team they cheer for, but their own sport ~ cheering).
    .-= Ashley Sue Allen´s last blog ..The Vegetarian Hunts (for the 411) =-.

  2. Jimmy_C September 6, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    I agree with your premise to a point. Take it from me…your average, heterosexual middle aged guy…that photo is not selling sex, it is not even selling cute…it is selling how cheap the publication was to use a bad stock photo.
    .-= Jimmy_C´s last blog ..An ex-Brit speaks on national health care. =-.

  3. Lisa Creech Bledsoe September 6, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Ashley Sue, thanks in particular to you for weighing in on cheerleaders; the wretched pay and the real reason they practice their sport.

    Jimmy_C, I actually feel better about it when I consider this the way you put it — less a sloppy attempt to use sex to sell journalism and more just a poorly thought-out decision.

    Thanks to both of you for reading and commenting.

  4. Jimmy_C September 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm #


    As the father of daughters I understand and agree with your point. Sexuality has/is used to sell almost everything we purchase, from romantic weekends to new cars and yes, even season tickets at sporting events. When the attempt is poorly executed it is obvious as the article you pointed out. When it is blatant it is cheap and trashy. A well created photo/advert that is tasteful & subtle can be a thing of beauty and artistry.
    .-= Jimmy_C´s last blog ..An ex-Brit speaks on national health care. =-.

  5. Lance Bledsoe September 8, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    I didn’t know that about the Steelers. A quick google search reveals that there are six NFL teams that don’t have cheerleaders:

    Steelers, Packers, Bears, Browns, Lions, Giants.

    (Wikipedia also notes that the NY Jets cheerleading squad wasn’t established until 2006.) Apparently some of these teams had cheerleaders at one time or another, but not any more. It also appears that some of these teams (including the Steelers) have made a conscious choice to not have cheerleaders because they feel it distracts from the game.

Leave a Reply