Female Athletes Judged By Sex Appeal

ByABC News
September 13, 2000, 9:04 AM

L O N D O N, Sept. 13 -- Women in sports are judged moreby their looks than their athletic ability, a Britishpsychologist said on Tuesday.

Tennis stars Mary Pierce and Anna Kournikova are talentedtennis players but Kournikova, who is judged to be more femininethan the sportier Pierce, is a more acceptable athlete,according to Priscilla Choi, of Keele University.

In this years Wimbledon [tennis championship] AnnaKournikova was hailed as one of the best role models for womenstennis and this is a woman who isnt as good as the Williamssisters or Mary Pierce, she told the British Association forthe Advancement of Science conference.

Flex Appeal and Sex Appeal

Although Kournikova was defeated in the third round of thechampionship and Venus Williams won the title bydefeating her sister Serena in the historic semifinal, Kournikovawas the media darling of the tournament.

Women in sports are still being valued more for what theylook like than their sports performance and this is reflected inrecreational exercise, she said.

It is the more feminine athletes who also get moresponsorships.

A survey Choi conducted of newspapers, womens journals andhealth magazines showed that the looks and the personal lives offemale sports stars dominated media coverage and there waslittle mention of their achievements.

Choi added that societys emphasis on gender and femininityhave hampered women athletes and has also spilled intorecreational sport.

Exercise for women is about looking beautiful. They aredoing it to look good, not for health benefits or to improvetheir heart rate, Choi explained.

Encouraging Girls

This is damaging to women, she said.

Fewer women than men take up an exercise and those that dooften do not continue because of the emphasis on looking goodand their goals are unrealistic.

There should be more focus on women being empowered byphysical exercise than trying to look better, she added.