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Sexism abounds in European media – just ask the U.S. women’s Olympic team

Jul 19, 2012, 12:46 PM EDT

us soccer

Word to UK media regarding the U.S. women’s Olympic team: Uh, these ladies DO play soccer. And they are good at it. Or haven’t you noticed?

I’m often flummoxed by how guarded the soccer players can be from foreign lands. Not just the natives of foreign lands, either; even the Americans who go abroad tend to become very stand-offish with news gatherers once they return home.

Sometimes they get downright suspicious, to the point of being all tin-foil-hat paranoid about it, as if writers and broadcasters spend their days conjuring up new and improved methods of personality assassination.

Then I see stories like the one below, and it all makes sense. The foreign press really can be insufferable at times.

Bottom line here, the American media world isn’t perfect. Far from it. But generally speaking it is night and day better than what athletes deal with once they cross borders.

Case in point:

This is the story of the U.S. women’s Olympic team’s arrival into Glasgow from Scotland’s Daily Record.

It’s an insulting report, sexist and demeaning. You have to dig in and work very hard to figure out that the United States women’s national team is among the world’s best, with actual athletes who take their craft seriously, and who are globally recognized as being among the tip-top at what they do.

This is not some giggling assembly of sophomore-year-abroad co-eds looking for tourist trinkets while waiting for their next chance to preen before the cameras – although that’s what this newspaper seems to think. The first 95 words from the Daily Record’s story:

All of a sudden, the Olympics have got sexy. Really sexy.

The pin-up babes of the US Olympic football team arrived for their first training session in Glasgow yesterday.

And although the rain was pouring down, you would hardly have noticed as stars such as glamour-girl keeper Hope Solo, 32, and strike stunner Alex Morgan, 23, hit the pitch.

The Seattle Sounders team-mates – who caused a sensation recently with a photoshoot wearing only sprayed-on paint “bikinis” – were put through their paces at Strathclyde University’s training ground in Stepps, near Glasgow, amid a huge security operation.

So, yes … good luck, ladies. Do take heart, because soon enough, real journalists who are there to talk about and write about actual competition will be on the scene. The nincompoops will still be around, of course, but at least you can walk past them on the way to something better.

Until then … well, just fight through it best you can.

  1. remarkablestlouisan - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Let’s be candid here Steve — these women soccer players market and sell their sexuality and significantly benefit from it. Who is really at fault? The European writers are just playing right into the effective marketing of the pr people for Hope Solo and Alex Morgan? Alex Morgan is a great player, but she is not even the best field player on the squad. Yet, by playing up her sex appeal–resulting in articles like this one–she is increasing her value. There will certainly be articles written about her performance on field, but her people crave this coverage just a much. Alex and Hope are certainly not victims; in fact, it is quite the opposite.

    • Steve Davis - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      We just see things differently, I suppose. Because male athletes do similar things. (Carlos Bocanegra just recently, for instance). While I hear what you’re saying, you would NEVER read a report of men arriving in town for an important tournament that so significantly plays up the sexiness angle.

      • remarkablestlouisan - Jul 19, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        I recall recently reading an article about the Spanish national team that spent a significant amount of the article discussing the sex appeal of certain players. I don’t recall the author or publisher, but it was from a major news source. David Beckham may provide some of the best service in the world, but you may not even know he played football based upon the media coverage in the last several years.

  2. Hil - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Eh. Is that a real newspaper? They don’t even have Hope’s age right. Call a rag a rag and wait until the real press show up. Then again judging by the ticket sales perhaps some countries just aren’t going to be that interested in the sport side of it either anyway. I’m hoping we are just running into the unsavory fringe and this won’t be the tone the Olympics take throughout, but I am having my doubts. It’s a far cry from the reception of the Women’s World Cup in Germany just last year.

  3. bobinkc - Jul 19, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Yes, sex should be left out of a lot of things, Steve. I just happen to enjoy the looks of a lot of the US players. You can call me an old perv if you want, but smokin’ is as smokin’ does! I just hope and pray that they smoke their competition all the way to the top of the heap.

    It does surprise me, though, that nothing was written along those same lines about Beck-beck when his latest video hit the airwaves. Of course, understanding that “all” sports writers are guys goes a long way to explain the “reserve” with which the Scottish writer so liberally basted their painted hides upon arrival. LOL

  4. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 19, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    If one chooses to market themselves in a sexual fashion, then one cannot complain about receiving negative attention associated with that marketing.

  5. sir1389 - Jul 19, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    I just got my degree in 20th century European history, and based on many years worth of reading and research into the European culture as a whole I have this to say: Europeans on the whole, from the poor up to the middle class and rich, are rather more ok with racism, sexism etc. I’m not saying that they are more racist or sexist than anyone else but their culture at the moment breeds an acceptance of a lackadaisical response to remarks that are slightly bigoted. They don’t DISLIKE it as much as many people should. For all the bigoted people we have here in this country I feel we’ve gotten to the point where there are as many if not more people who are outright disgusted with their comments. Of course with any grand sweeping statements like this there are many obvious counter examples that you could point out but all in all through academic and personal experiences i have found this to be true.

  6. sabanissatan - Jul 20, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    I’m pretty sure the point of the article was the amount of sex at the Olympics, and the U.S. women’s team was just a nice intro link… But of course we’re trained like dogs here that even the slightest controversial remark is heinous… Prob why Americans fall in line so neatly…

  7. footballer4ever - Jul 25, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    Who dares to criticize the women’s soccer players for anything other than playing the game. Let them be….

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