Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Pros: When beauty meets balls



I told my friends during this year's Aussie Open final, "Bet on the ugly guy."

Of course, Wawarinka wasn't, isn't, ugly. He just looks like a roofer or car mechanic; a really fit plumber with whom you can discuss the virtues of PEX versus copper. Most everyone in the ATP top ten could be a movie star. Wawarinka, on the other hand, would be the buddy of the brother of the guy who kills the zombies.

Which is why I thought he'd be a solid. It wasn't handlers who had paved his way to the grand slam title, it was his heart.

So much about sports these days is all about the close-up -- the steely gaze and flared nostrils across the net or down the field. May the best cheekbones win. It's what sells market share, it's what sells shoes. If you're both talented and lovely, the corporate sponsors kick start your career, place some long-term bets.

The inequity starts early. Supermodel competitors have the benefit of childhood interventions, grow up to the sport with the best coaches, camps, doctors, dentists, dermatologists, podiatrists, psychiatrists the deep pockets can deliver. Ordinary looking athletes have to make it on own their own steam. One can understand the corporate responsibility involved here -- the public wears what the models wear; plumbers just don't move the merch.

Had corporate scouts and sponsorships overtaken sports only two or three decades ago, I wonder if Seles, Navratilova, McEnroe, or Lendl would have made it to the top. I'm just talking tennis here, but it's in evidence on all the playing fields. The money supplies and follows the expectation that certain athletes will be equally good at both serving and selling, equally compelling on and off the field.

My World Cup soccer prediction -- in the end, whoever is deemed the hero will look absolutely sensational wearing a tux and Nike's, holding a glass of Absolut while placing one perfect cheek -- fore or aft, either will do -- on the hood of a Beemer.

26 comments:

  1. Which is why Yogi Berra chose the right decade. Besides, when it comes to philosophizing, no one in sport today could carry Yogi's catcher's mask. It just isn't deja vu all over again. At least in that respect.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hm. Maybe I should start watching sports.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd like to think that McEnroe would have shouted and cursed his way to the top, even today.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Kaori: I agree w/you.. McEnroe would of made a name for himself w/out tennis.. azzhats always make their way into the media..and Karin, those soccer boys would look great wearing a paper bag.. looking fit looks good in anything! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. You're definitely onto something - it could explain why I can't tell the difference between Nadal, Federer and all those other olive-skinned hunks with black hair. And so many of the women players are tall with long blond hair and Eastern European names. Perhaps that's why I stopped watching - I couldn't distinguish them on court, kept cheering for the wrong side. Nowadays McEnroe's antics would have made all his sponsors pull out.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think of Gabriella Sabattini. I even think of Kris Kemmer Shaw, the mother we never found. I think of Anna Kournikova.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kournikova was the exception, now as Bellis points out, Kournikovaish players are the rule. Hard to find a women's match without at least one long blonde braid.

    ReplyDelete
  8. McEnroe was more loved and appreciated in the tennis world than most people realize. Sponsors would not abandon him. They would be lining up. The world loves its McEnroes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So your thesis is that a young star, a winner, without looks has a more difficult road? I love a thesis like that.

    In some way, when it comes to tennis, I think the very nature of the sport attracts people who are good looking. At least in the US, it's the good looking people who hang around the country clubs where tennis, swimming, and golf are offered.

    ReplyDelete
  10. No, they don't hang around country clubs anymore -- that was back when they looked ordinary. Today they're scouted out by sponsors starting at about 5 years old when they audition at a tennis academy.

    But I'm sure the same is true for soccer players. Chosen for potential beauty and brawn at a very young age. Given excellent training, probably raised at an academy, $$'s to family.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Diversity usually isn't profitable in the long run, unless, of course, someone can spin it into some sort of bankable inspiration porn. No wonder Serena and Venus are so tough minded.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You're probably right about the World Cup winners. And I'm with Kaori on McEnroe. He was downright entertaining!

    ReplyDelete
  13. CAA and IMG (part of WME), determine the sports we see and the players we watch. It is still all about the game, except the game is marketing. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-william-morris-endeavor-img-deal-20131219-story.html#page=1

    ReplyDelete
  14. We have five kids (all grown now) and believe me, I've spent more than my share of time watching them play soccer.

    Although I admit that soccer players are very talented, I just can't watch it, b o r i n g....

    The most boring thing is watching grown men, in peak condition, writhe on the ground like they've been shot, if an opponent so much as touches them. In hockey, players are penalized for doing that (embellishing).

    Also, when a star scores a goal, you expect them to run to their teammates and celebrate. BUT NO! They run away from them so they don't have to share the camera.

    I guess what I'm trying to say, is that I don't really know what they look like. Fore or aft...

    ReplyDelete
  15. OK. So maybe I won't start watching sports.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hmmm, interesting reflections. And I think you're on to something. And not just about sports....

    ReplyDelete
  17. There's gotta be something to your theory. I wonder if any serious research has been done. PhD dissertation anyone?

    There's a more benevolent perspective. I think sports, from high school to the top pro levels, reveals character far, far more than playing a game should. So if Seles, Navratilova, McEnroe, Lendl and others are examples of Not-Ken-and-Barbie athletes, I still found their art and their intensity impressive, including the close-ups strongly suggestive of character, like paintings. I guess you're saying such appreciation is quaint and archaic. Maybe so.

    By the way, I've been growing a lot of grapes lately in the hope of coming up with a Sharipova pino grigio.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yeah, you all brought up some interesting points.

    Tennis did lose some of its personality once they installed Shot Spot and eliminated the tantrums. I'm another one who had a love hate relationship with McEnroe.

    Nastase set the gold standard for meltdowns. But one time he played a 100+ seeded guy who was screaming and banging his racket and Nastase said, "You are not good enough player for this behavior. Only if you play like Nastase, can you act like Nastase."

    And yeah, the rolling and writhing on the soccer field? What is this -- pro wrestling?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Interesting article, Karin. About advertising, Brazilian soccer star Neymar (guy on the photo) is one of the most marketable sportsperson in the world. You can read about more marketable athletes HERE".

    ReplyDelete
  20. yea...hmmm.. never liked pretty puss Sharapova, but I guess she won fair and square!

    ReplyDelete
  21. The guy in the photo--is this what young women (and cougars!) want? Who decided that? Once upon a naive time I'd have assumed it was the young women who decided that. I always underestimated the power of the dollar, the big screen, and herd mentality. And with lumberjacks and firefighters I suppose sneakers and spandex aren't the first things that come to mind.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'll stick with LA Kings ice hockey!!! On an interview recently with a female hockey fan, she said "they're real men"!!!

    (Besides...I've got an in with Bailey)

    ReplyDelete
  23. If I braid my long blonde hair and get a tennis racket will that negate my arthritic knees and make me a tennis star??? They say it's never too late to start over...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Yes, Sonia, I predict Neymar will be big news soon on this side of the equator.

    I like her, KM, just cause she's gritty. But not exactly the most strategic player.

    Banjo, well, he is mighty cute. I find it pretty amazing how standards of beauty change over the years.

    All right, Chieftess, hit the court -- let's see what you're made of.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I do miss the days -- not that long ago -- when sports were off to the side (not that I don't follow the Dodgers), and money, media, advertising and branding weren't the big gorillas they are now.

    Sports, to me, are supposed to be a respite from business-things like that.

    I think Koufax would do all right in today's world. But they'd be hard-pressed getting him to pose with a Beemer.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Latest All Hot Current Affairs, Bollywood News updates, funny and lol pictures
    HotCurrentAffairs

    ReplyDelete