Would you be more likely to watch a sport if you were sexually attracted to one or more of the participants? Especially if it is a sport such as snooker that can take place over a matter of days rather than hours?
Snooker seems obsessed with trying to promote youth and sexiness, presumably because it is a fundamentally unsexy sport. From the cringeworthy talk of ‘naughty snooker’ by Judd Trump to a genuinely embarrassing article on the BBC Sport website that appeared this week following Michael White’s shock defeat of former world champion Mark Williams in the first round of the 2013 world championships.
Snooker is a game that requires immense levels of skill, concentration and tactical nous to play. Maybe those marketing the game could concentrate on promoting this rather than desperately panting after any young player who wins a couple of games and trying to sell them as putting sexy into snooker? After all, you might watch a couple of minutes of coverage because you fancy one of the players but unless the game grips you the chances of becoming a long term fan are pretty slim.
It is also another example of sport thinking the only way it can attract female interest is by appealing to the lowest common denominator – that a woman could only be interested in snooker because they think a player has a strong jawline. Maybe we could give them the credit to think they enjoy the sport because they appreciate the skill involved and enjoy the drama of a close contest?
Changing sports, I also can’t help but feel full of rage whenever I see the cheerleaders at the Indian Premier League cricket. Cheerleaders always annoy me anyway, to the hardcore fan they are an annoyance and is the prospect of some scantily clad women really enough to entice the casual fan through the turnstiles? If that is what they want to see their are plenty of strip clubs that cater to that need.
The IPL cheerleaders are especially irritating. Firstly, because their dancing is so bad, uncoordinated and out of time. More seriously because the presence of all white cheerleaders in a society that recent events suggest has a real issue with how it perceives women has potentially far-reaching implications. It reinforces the stereotype in Indian society that foreign women are naturally promiscuous. If there are has to be cheerleaders why do none of them seem to be Indian? There are a number of terrifying stories of sexual violence against women in India and in part this is because women are not seen as real people – either saints or sluts.
So please, can we stop trying to use sex to sell sport? Not because of a latent prudish streak, but because it is boring, unimaginative, adds nothing to the spectacle, and also lying underneath is a thinly veiled streak of misogyny that does sport no credit at all. Who knows, if sport stopped acting like a leering old man in a nightclub it might succeed in attracting more women to attend live events.