Sex Sells Women's Sports, But at a Price?

"It has been tried many times going back to at least Jan Stevenson and Laura Bow in the '70s," she adds. "It didn't help women's golf. In fact, it can become kind of a laughingstock. It, it focuses people's attention on the sexual aspect and clouds the athletic aspect and clouds the athletic aspect.

"Women have always been degraded by being disrobed and that option I think will always be open to women," Nurton says. "And women will be offered a lot of money to take their clothes off. But what happens when they do is they lose respect. It's a mistake for female athletes to go ahead and agree to do that and it can be damaging to all of women's sports when female athletes are seen as sex objects rather than as athletes."

Christine Brennan, a sports columnist for USA Today and a consultant for ABCNEWS, says women's sports need to progress in their marketing approach.

"We seem to be still pandering to the frat house when … many viewers of women's sports are 12-year-old girls with their 40-year-old dads," she says.

But Drew Rosenhaus, a sports agent, says the women's leagues are just giving the fans what they want.

"There is a large part of the sports viewership that wants to see good looking, female golfers and good looking female tennis players," he says, "and there's nothing wrong with that."

Double Standard?

However, when it comes to male athletes, their sex appeal definitely has something do with whom gets chosen to make commercials, but it's different.

"People aren't asking Tiger Woods to take off his clothes, and if they did he wouldn't do it, I hope," Nurton says. "I don't think he would because he respects himself too much. It would get him more attention. It might even get him more money. But it's not who he wants to be to the public."

On the other hand, Stevenson says, "If Tiger would disrobe there'd be a lot of people who'd like to see it, including myself."

While there are now individual voices raising objections to the sexualization of women's sports, you are not hearing protests from the organizations that oversee these sports, most of which are run by men, like the Women's Tennis Association.

"We don't apologize for, I think, the marketability of our players off the court," WTO CEO Kevin Wulff says. "You know, they're attractive. They're fit. They're recognized as great athletes, which they are — some of the greatest athletes in the world."

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