Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A little respect for big women athletes

By Nancy Jane Moore

Since Diane brought up basketball today, I thought I'd alert the sports fans among our readers to LZ Granderson's article on University of Oklahoma star Courtney Paris (pictured at right)

Granderson calls Paris "the best college basketball player in the country" -- notice that he doesn't call her just the best woman player -- but he also explains why she hasn't graced the cover of any sports magazines:

Not because she's undeserving -- obviously she is -- but because she's not "cover girl material." Paris is pretty. But she's also big. Not just tall -- but big. And she's strong and athletic and confident, and she and others like her make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. Particularly men. Consequently magazines, including the one I write for, will always hesitate to put her on the cover even during the height of basketball season despite the fact she's the best college basketball player in the country.

This is March madness.

Actually, I take that back. I do have a better description for it. It's blatant discrimination.
Obviously Mr. Granderson not only recognizes talent when he sees it, but understands the underlying sexism that still limits the careers of women who don't fit the cultural ideal.

Courtney Paris came up in an earlier post on In This Moment. And we also wrote recently about high school girls' weightlifting down in Florida -- another sport that includes some very large, very healthy women.


Joe said...

Then why are Queen Latifah, Rosie O'Donnell, and Cathy Bates so popular? Don't confuse the "unpopularity" of overweight women with the factually-unpopular world of women's athletics (including Jenny Finch, Mia Garciaparra, etc).

Nancy Jane Moore said...

I wasn't talking about overweight women -- that's another topic. I also wasn't talking about performers -- weight issues in that field are another can of worms entirely. I was talking about women who are large and in great shape.
And I believe you'll find that women's sports are growing in popularity all the time -- especially among women.

Joe said...

Your constant state of victimization is blinding.

To insinuate that Courtney Paris has been left off of magazine covers because she is a "big" girl is absurd and patently false. She has not appeared on magazine covers because women's basketball, particularly when competing with men's basketball, is nowhere near as popular. Publishers want to sell magazines, not print material few are interested in reading.

You failed to address my point that even women who meet (or surpass) the cultural ideal (eg. Jenny Finch, Mia Garciaparra, Lorena Ochoa, etc.) don't dramatically increase the popularity of their respective sports.

No doubt, these women are more likely to appear on a magazine cover. But does viewership among men increase as a result? Doubtful, at best. The fact is that women's sports are a novelty, a gimmick.

Diane Silver said...

Ah, we get the core of your unhappiness, Joe. You simply don't like women's sports.

The truth is that many women athletes have appeared on the covers of sports magazines over the years, from women on the 2006 U.S. Olympic team to women basketball players like Chamique Holdsclaw, the US Women's National Soccer Team and many others.

If the issue were selling magazines and that women athletes are a poor draw, then none of those women would have been pictured.

Nancy makes a valid point, and it has nothing to do with claiming victimization. However, it does have to do with stating reality.

All the best to you, Joe.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

BTW, Joe, I didn't say Ms. Paris should be on the cover of a magazine -- a male sports writer did. He's the one who thinks she's the best basketball player in the country right now.