In the 21st century, globalization has totally transformed the world, by giving equal possibilities to man and women to show their power and strength in different spheres of life. Sport is not an exception to this rule. In the post modern period, female athletes participate in the global and national competitions on the same scale as men, taking into account advent of different and new kinds of sport suitable for female generation. Post modern changes significantly precipitate the role, vitality, and uniqueness of women in sport. However, there are numerous cases of criticism against female athletes. Recently, female athletes have faced critics for using their bodies as a tool to get more attention than their male counterparts. Some hold an opinion that nowadays female athletes completely forget about the primary role of sport to be sport (symbol of fitness and achievements), but not to be a part of sexual games or naked advertising. On the other hand, some advocate that female athletes do not have any intentions to demonstrate their sexuality to public; it is not a break of the law to model some clothes and to be a part of advertizing campaign. Moreover, female athletes point out that they advertize clothes in order to make ends meet financially, because they do not have enough money for living. In addition, the rewarding in modern sport is so poor that even gold medal holders should find extra job to earn some money. Thomas Huang, an Illinois University professor, has critically analyzed the issue of female sportswomen advertizing campaign pointing out two sides of the coin. In this case, it is highly recommended to investigate the arguments over this hot topic in order to see the modern trends of sport and the role of woman in it.
Undoubtedly, athletes are identified as people who have chosen to demonstrate their physical abilities and courage over usual professions, such as nurses or teachers. Everyone can agree that it is difficult for women to get into the limelight, since most of the players belong to male generation. Moreover, gender difference is still an ongoing issue in modern society. Fortunately, thanks to female movements, society has recognized equality of man and women. But there are numerous cases when this recognition is still in the theory. The society appreciates female athletes, but at the same time criticizes them for almost everything that they do (not like their male counterparts). They normally get critics about everything, including their private lives, style of make-ups, color of uniforms, and even haircuts. Thus, being a part of a team (male one) is still a big problem. Government and famous political actors proclaim that any gender discrimination does not exist. However, only female athletes are criticized for their advertizing campaign and images on the covers of famous magazines. It is true that everyone has freedom to do what they like. Most people have main jobs and, at the same time, people normally participate in hobbies and fun activities. Talking about athletes, their main job is sport; however, it does not mean that they cannot accomplish other work, such as advertizing or modeling. Moreover, for someone extra job can be assumed as hobby. Nobody can criticize a person for the hobby he/ she likes even though it is very strange one.
It is clear that female athletes may decide to participate in an advertizing campaign taking into account various reasons:
- To earn extra money in order to train in good fitness centers, participate in different competitions (the entrance ticket should be also paid), and to buy convenient uniforms.
- To be famous. Each female athlete can agree that the key to success is recognition. Consequently, participation in photography or advertizing will not cut out achievement of the sportswomen, but it will precipitate her recognition and popularity in public.
- To do what they like (their hobby). For some female athletes advertizing is a kind of entertainment. It is not because of lacking money or being famous. It can be explained by love to do something completely different from sport or to try themselves in various spheres by demonstrating success and diversity of own abilities.
Talking about advertisers, it should be mentioned that they actually prefer to use female athletes to promote their products since they are respected and known members of the society. For example, a magazine publisher can use an athlete and sure enough it is assured of great sales and profits. Therefore, participating in extra jobs such as modeling to make money should not be taken against athletes. Both male and female athletes participate in such adverts, but critics only focus on female athletes by citing that they use their bodies to lure male consumers to purchase the products. Male athletes such as Tiger Woods and David Beckham have in the recent past been the faces and ambassadors of various companies and charity events. These events have collected good amounts of cash for their courses. Unfortunately, only female athletes are being criticized for their active advertizing campaigns. This issue influences the rise of other problem connected with sexism and gender discrimination of female generation in sport. Huang (2) has represented this argument properly in his article. He has done this by quoting several authors such as Mr. Dolan of FHM who argues that some of the athletes are extremely brilliant, yet they receive very little for their work. Hence, any opportunity that presents itself to them to create extra cash that can help them pay their bills as they train is always welcome. It is also difficult to hold such wishes against them since some of them would not get the opportunity to train comfortably without these side jobs. Huang has also quoted Ms Beard, one of the female athletes under critics. Ms. Beard said she participated in photography and modeling since she enjoyed doing it and, like any one ordinarily person, she would keep doing it as long as she enjoyed it.
On the contrary, critics argue that female athletes want to participate in advertizing campaign in order to demonstrate their hot sexuality, slim body, and to get more attention from the public comparing to their male counterparts. It is evident that the athletic body in different forms of undress, is gaining popularity and having a lot of exposure nowadays as several female Olympic athletes have decided to demonstrate their naked bodies and be sexy. Historically, athletes in the ancient Games competed nude, the modern-day sportswomen have chosen advertizing campaign to be popular and famous. Modern female athletes have a keen interest to get more attraction from their slim bodies, but not from their high achievements. Thus, female sportswomen simply forgot about the prime roles of sport to demonstrate physical strength but not sexual body. Taking a look at modern advertizing, it is clear that there is no advertizing of a product at all. There are simply advertisements with naked bodies in bikinis (as a role model of superstar) with shiny skin who want to display some information. In most cases, the viewer cannot comprehend what the product is and what the theme of the advertizing is. Adult audience watches this advertisements like a kind of adult entertainment or pornography. There is nothing important about female athletes' achievements or their successful sport path. It is simply watching sexy images and sexy covers without any vital content. In most cases, viewers or readers of these advertisements do not pay attention to the names of the models; they are interested in their bodies, not even faces. Unfortunately, young generation watch and read these advertisements that do not have any educational role. It is a pity that children are growing up in the society that completely deteriorates perception a young viewer or reader. It is terrible that modern-day female athletes forgot that they are respected members of the society. They are often looked up to by both young and old. Young children always look up to them as their role models. Their behavior often affects the behavior of young children. For example, if an athlete puts on a certain fashion design, most teenagers and young children often take up this fashion design as well.
Female athletes totally underestimate their influence on young generation. For example, in the past political campaign, most athletes endorsed their preferred candidates who ended up receiving a lot of support from the rest of the people. This shows that athletes should be conscious of their actions as they are role models of the society. Therefore, when female athletes expose their nude bodies in magazines, they portray a bad picture to the society. Young boys and teenagers use these as pornographic materials and are often misguided in their lives. Furthermore, active participation of female naked sportswomen in various advertising campaign completely degrades the status of women in the society. Women are seen as sex objects only and their beauty and femininity are underestimated. Female athletes should use more of their talents and skills to promote themselves rather than using pornography to do that. Huang (1) has stressed this side of the argument by giving an example of the most successful female pitching athlete Jennie Finch. Jenny has turned down many invitations from magazines such as Playboy and Maxim. This has not hindered her success in the field as well as her support from the society. She has been named one of the ‘hottest female athletes’ by various magazines such as the ESPN. Jennie has never exposed her body despite receiving huge admiration and support from funs. She has a strong opinion why she does not pose for such magazines although she does not condemn those who do. Advocates for woman’s sports also have a similar argument. They argue that the use of sex by female athletes hurts other women. They also argue that such behavior also diminishes their huge accomplishments in the field. This is because people overlook these accomplishments and focus on the sexiness that they expose on screen and in magazines. This also lowers their chances of being picked for more decent courses such as charity and serious companies. Such companies cannot risk using an athlete as their company image, yet the society has a negative perception of the same athlete. In such a case, such a company would prefer using a male athlete for imaging instead of picking a female athlete for the job. In the past, female athletes were often photographed in decent attires such as prom dresses. This promoted their dignity and the respect for women in the entire society.
According to Huang, there is some truth to both sides of this argument. The exposure of nude female athletes on media platforms such as television and magazines hurts both them and other women. This is because they lose their dignity and their accomplishments in the field are always disregarded. They also hurt other women since their bodies may not look like those of female athletes. This also makes women be seen only as sex objects and their beauty and dignity are often lost. Furthermore, sexy images on the screens and cover s of magazines can deteriorate perception of reality of young generation. The mass media should be careful with advertising extremely naked body. The counter argument is that like everyone else female athletes have their hobbies, their own choices of work, and their own means of earning money. Participation of female athletes in advertisement does not diminish their achievements in sports.
All in all, Thomas Huang has done a great job in representing these two sides of the argument. He has counter argued that it is not an offense for female athletes to take part in various advertizing campaigns in order to get extra money and to promote themselves. Moreover, it is not an offense for female athletes to have own hobbies or extra (besides sport) activities, since each person has a right to do what they want that is not against law. Female athletes work extra because they receive very little out of their ventures that they are able to pay for their basic amenities such as food. This also means that they are not able to train comfortably for their sport activities. This means that the athletes that we enjoy watching and supporting would be no more and their glory would go to other countries where athletes are supported and appreciated more. Huang has also represented the other side to this argument. He argues that it is not decent for female athletes to use their bodies in order to lure supporters and sponsors. Furthermore, advertizing sexuality diminishes female athletes' sports accomplishments and often ends up hurting other women who are looked down upon in the society. What is more, sexual advertisements are not good for young children and teenagers since they do not educate them, but deteriorate their perception of reality and predominant role of man and women.