Sex sells: The women's game

Discussion in 'Women's Fans and More' started by Surf Coach, May 23, 2011.

  1. Bonnie Lass

    Bonnie Lass Super Moderator Staff Member

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    No, I agree completely. A big part of the reason I like (crush on) the players I do is because of how they play, how they perform. They don't have to be superstars, but they just have something extra that catches my attention. Foot skills, if they're aggressive on the ball, how they lead, their playing style ... (All open to unmerciful euphemisms, I'm afraid. :eek: ) But really, looks alone just doesn't do it for me.

    Off topic. Sorry.

    I was one of those that started watching women's soccer after '99. I think the WWC that year did create many fans, but A.) I think WUSA FAR overestimated how many fans would still be around 2 years after the cup and B.) I'd say about 1/2* of those who became fans after 99 have since moved on with their lives and interests, given the hasty ending of the league and the lackluster (and last-minute) 03 WWC.

    It's hard to be a fan of something when it's not around.

    * -- There's no stats backing this up. Only my personal observations -- both online and IRL -- dealing with women's fans and their interest or non-interest in it. There's been a hell of a drop here on BS, and IRL, it's much the same. People that were hardcore in the Beat haven't really bothered to go watch the new team.


  2. CardtheBird

    CardtheBird New Member

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    Fairly common phenomenon in business. When something is new it can attract many customers interested in what's new. After a while it's not new and they move on to what is new. To survive long term you need to attract customers customers not just interested in what's new or keep giving the first something new to keep coming back. For examples look at restaurants, cars, and electronics.
  3. thegamesthatrate

    thegamesthatrate Member

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    I think the WUSA completely mis-handled its marketing, waited too long to start play and made strategic blunders.

    These include:

    1. Waiting until 2001. Not starting in 2000 meant the afterglow of 1999 was off - especially after Norway won the 2000 Olympic gold and Akers retired.

    2. Failure to make sure the New York team was good. No sports league has ever succeeded on a grand scale prior to its New York team being good.

    3. Targeting 12-year old girls as their market. That ensured it would be their ONLY market. A majority of the viewers on TV were grown men (i.e., the core of sports fans in this country). Failure to capitalize on that was monumentally stupid.

    But I digress, as I don't think the WUSA is solely responsible for the USWNT's less magical hold on the public or the loss of the momentum from 1999. And, I don't think it is just the lack of novelty. I'm still open to other explanations.
  4. wallacegrommit

    wallacegrommit Member

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    I agree with SCF, the 99 didn't actually create nearly as many women's soccer fans as the WUSA people thought it did.

    This bubble phenomenon isn't limited to women's soccer, we see it with many other sports as well. Remember the 1996 U.S. Olympics gymnastics team where Kerri Strug hurt her ankle? Where is the popularity of women's gymnastics in America today? Remember the crush of media and huge galleries for Annika Sorrenstam at Colonial and for Michelle Wie? Why aren't all those fans and reporters still following the LPGA? The U.S. Women's Open is going on right now, where is all the public attention for that event? Remember Dot Richardson's softball home run in the 1996 Olympics? Where is women's softball today? It isn't even an Olympic sport anymore, the pro league has been teetering on folding, I watched a game this summer, they were playing in front of a tiny crowd at the Disney complex on a baseball field that wasn't even made for softball. The U.S. national hockey team gets attention during the winter Olympics, is there even an women's pro hockey league? I have no idea. Whatever happened to beach volleyball? After showing some explosive growth at one time, that sport seems to be stalling.

    The 99 WWC was like a summer blockbuster movie. It had drama, a character driven story, an antagonist rival in China, a storybook ending, it even played out over a period that would mirror a movie running in the theaters. Just because people will watch a movie doesn't mean that they will want to see a spin-off TV series or a sequel. The story arc was completed- the American Powerpuff Girls saved the galaxy. People who weren't actually interested in the soccer itself didn't need to keep watching.

    I wouldn't say that the legacy of the 99 Cup has been wasted- all of the subsequent WWC have been successful, drawn good crowds, have good TV coverage, it is completely night and day compared to the Cups prior to 99. This sustained level of success has been important not just to create a base in the U.S., but to spread the game in other countries and we are really starting to see the dividends as they begin to close the gap with the more traditional powers.

    So, yes, the 99 Cup didn't have the immediate impact of converting millions of people into suddenly becoming women's soccer fans. To imagine that one tournament could do that is quite a reach, considering that with essentially the same core group of players they were playing in the dark ages in terms of popularity and media attention the entire time up to that point. I remember seeing ESPN ads for soccer instructional videos and thinking "Who in the world is this Mia Hamm person?" In the long run, however, I think we will look back and correctly recognize that it was a watershed moment and the seeds that were planted just had to be allowed time to germinate.


  5. lovingthegreen

    lovingthegreen Member

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    All really good points, except for maybe #2 but that's not a big deal.

    The third point is probably the most important. Not only does it make 12-year-old girls the only market, but those girls are going to grow out of it just like they do other things 12-year-old girls do. When you're around 18 years old and older, you generally don't want to do things you did when you were 12, especially if those activities are targeted to that early- and pre-teen age range.

    Also, for better or for worse, men are not going to be apt to follow something that is targeted at young girls with the exception of fathers of those 12-year-olds.

    In my opinion, they need to target adults with a secondary target of children. When you target families and/or children you do not target people who will revolve their lives around the team, the fans you need in order for the interest in the league and local clubs to take off.

    Personally, I can get into women's soccer solely because I enjoy watching soccer. Unfortunately, the atmospheres at games can be a bit lacking when compared to men's games. And no atmosphere can't be helping attendances.
  6. Batfink

    Batfink Member

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    I agree. Just take a look at the crowds in Germany right now. It's adults that make up at least 95% of the audience at every game. The best WWC crowds, with the best atmosphere, have had even higher percentage adults in the stands too.

    The major difference with the WWC from it's male equivalent, is the higher percentage of women in the stands, not kids. The kids/young adult demographic of a potential women's soccer audience, is always ridiculously exaggerated.

    You only get decent atmosphere in stadiums, when people watching the game understand the narrative of whats happening on the field. That will always come from adult men and women, not kids.

    The problem with any adult fan base when it comes to football's club game, is that it's always a more hardcore niche of fan that you have to try a keep. This is where the women's game then continuously finds it's self cast back into limbo, aimlessly wandering between serious pro sport, and amateur novelty.
  7. thegamesthatrate

    thegamesthatrate Member

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    Major league baseball in 1919 - near extinction.

    1921 - 1923 - Yankees and New York Giants in the World Series three straight years. Baseball recovers.

    Football in 1958 - no major contract.

    Giants - Colts goes to overtime. Contract and new league. Jets win Super Bowl III. Merger works.

    NBA in the 1960s - Celtics win 8 straight titles and themselves don't sell out their games.

    Knicks win two titles in '70 and '73. CBS gives contract to league. League is strong enough to survive dark years of late '70s and soars on Magic-Bird rivalry.

    NASL - sleepy league until the Cosmos get Pele and become good. Overexpansion kills it, but that is a separate story. MLS - has yet to equal NASL glory days for fan attendance and network TV contract. New York team has generally bitten dust during that time.

    WUSA - New York team is miserable. League folds.

    It's not 100% cause and effect. But, it's an interesting track record.
  8. StarCityFan

    StarCityFan BigSoccer Supporter

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    Now if Ali Krieger had just taken her jersey off.... ;)
  9. DCUPopeAndLillyFan

    DCUPopeAndLillyFan Member

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    Doesn't explain how MLS is stronger than ever despite the Metrostars/Red Bulls having won nothing. Not that the league didn't try lol.
  10. thegamesthatrate

    thegamesthatrate Member

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    The league still does not register on the typical sports fan consciousness, and it likely won't until the Red Bulls are good, given past precedent.
  11. kool-aide

    kool-aide Member

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    Sports Don't Need Sex To Sell. A very interesting piece on a study of marketing of female athletes. The conclusions of the study are pretty much what the title says. Using sex to sell female athletes does not make people more likely or more interested in women's sports. Using the sport and female athletes athletic accomplishment to sell their sport does.
  12. wallacegrommit

    wallacegrommit Member

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    I agree with many of the points in the article, but I think the issue is more complicated and subtle than just concluding that the solution should be to portray female athletes as athletes as opposed to being sexualized.

    Compare the Vonn SI cover to this cover of golfer Adam Scott-
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/featured/10936/index.htm
    Is Adam in a sexually provocative pose? Why does the cover refer to his looks and how he "has" girls? Why is the word "girls" even used in this context? Why isn't he wearing golf clothes or holding a golf club when it is supposed to be a Masters preview issue? Is he sexually objectified by the cover?
  13. Flea2009

    Flea2009 Member

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    Two things
    1. He is not a women so it is a moot point.
    2. The picture is not superimposed over a mountain peak or for sake of contest an upright golf club.
  14. thegamesthatrate

    thegamesthatrate Member

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    Thanks for posting the link to the article. The article, however, is preachy, moralistic, and mis-focused. It smacks of one too many articles I've seen that seem to imply that there is some kind of affirmative action obligation on sports fans today to watch women's sports today because some current fans' grandfathers stopped other fans' grandmothers from playing sixty years ago.

    That tone turns off sports fans. Today's fans are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves whether women play a particular sport well enough to merit the fans' following. At the professional level, there is no "entitlement" to coverage. You have to earn it, in the most competitive arena there is. You cannot force me to watch you.

    By the way, the veterans from the championship teams in the '90s marketed women's soccer with just that approach. It was, "come see us play once. We'll make it worth your while."

    That being said, sex does sell sports. It's just not the over-the-top sexuality that sells.

    The athletic body is, to many, hot. Many women find top-flight male athletes hot. Many men find top-flight female athletes hot. That does not mean that the athletes have to be posing in sexually compromising positions in order to appeal to fans.

    Ability does sell the sport. However, the ability has to be really high at the professional level. If women's soccer looked today like what top-level games looked like in 1991 the fan support would be at the level of 1991.

    What generated the buzz for this year's WWC was a combination of very high level of play by other teams, coupled with dramatic American wins by a team that still has a reservoir of goodwill and admiration among general sports fans from the 1999 achievements. There is a sense of the players being "hot" but it is subtle, almost subliminal.

    Alex Morgan may be viewed as "hot" by many fans but the fact of the matter is that she produced a goal in the semifinals and a goal and an assist in the finals. That is ability in the clutch. It generates its own "heat," but it happened because when it mattered most, Morgan was VERY good.

    A more stark example is Wambach. Perhaps she does not engender as many "hot" accolades as Morgan does. But, by scoring big goal after big goal in each succeeding big game, and essentially picking up the team and willing it to the next level, Wambach rightfully earned legend status. Men were not afraid to say they admired Wambach as a soccer player. But, again, in this World Cup, Wambach was VERY VERY good - so good her ability could not be denied - and was embraced openly.

    On a subliminal level, "VERY VERY good" in sports can equate to "hot." But, marketing on this level has to be done very subtly and intelligently.

    A successful example of this was the Gatorade ad in 1999 with Jordan and Hamm. Note that the competitions included events where without resort to political correctness or logical claptrap, a woman's skill can overcome a man's size, strength and speed (such as fencing and tennis), giving the ad a subtle sexual edge that made it work.

    For every histrionic politically correct sourpuss who bemoaned Hamm having to "validate" herself by comparison to Jordan, there were thousands of viewers who correctly recognized that the ad was well-done, and that Jordan (ESPN athlete of the century) rightfully was the standard by which to measure Hamm.

    Properly marketed, Wambach can appeal to the regular sports fan who (contrary to viewpoints like that in the linked article) openly admires that extraordinary level of ability. Subliminally, there will be a sexual undercurrent. THAT sells. And, it's legal.
  15. wallacegrommit

    wallacegrommit Member

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    No, it is precisely my point, for reasons I've mentioned earlier in this thread. The abivalence towards female sexuality is itself a product of cultural norms, so when you create a dichotomy between athlete/sexual object and say that female athletes should be depicted as the former and not the latter, what you do is adopt the very type of sexual stereotype that a progressive/feminist viewpoint normally would be more likely to reject.

    To question is more complex in a way that is analogous to the issue of how blacks in general and African-americans in particular are portrayed by sports media and used in sports marketing. As an example, what is your reaction to this cover photo of Lebron James?-
    http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2008-03-24-vogue-controversy_N.htm
  16. YankBastard

    YankBastard Na Na Na Na NANANANAAA!

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  17. YankBastard

    YankBastard Na Na Na Na NANANANAAA!

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  18. Blobfish

    Blobfish Member

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    Br-r-r-r-r-r:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

    Woman with shaved head and tattoos - what can be more nauseous? Modern times require monsters instead of feminine looking women.
  19. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    Not about sex, sorry

    http://www.economist.com/news/inter...ommercial-goalsbut-they-still-have-lot-ground
    mamalia repped this.
  20. mamalia

    mamalia Member

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  21. WPS_Movement

    WPS_Movement Member+

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  22. Blobfish

    Blobfish Member

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    It's not a soccer, though. It's RUGBY. But these girls have so strong THIGHS.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Especially these Nr. 5 on both last photos. Super=strong girl!
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  23. debzy

    debzy Member

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    Sex will never sells women soccer or female sport in general , people are more interested in players who look like the girl next door than adult films stars.....people are more interested in the quality of the matches than the beauty of who is playing , yes a beautiful girl will take the attention of a male audience but to keep this attention for more than five minutes...once the pretty face effect it's over...it's another thing . Men are already bombarded with images of sexy girls everywhere they go and they look so in sport they are more interested in the quality of the performance . Sharapova , the Williams sisters , Isinbaeva , Taurasi , Danica Patrick , Rohnda Roussey , Gina Carano are all known and respected by the male because they are TRUE super talented athletes , some of them have a beautiful face but that's secondary .
  24. Blobfish

    Blobfish Member

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    Believe me or not, for me this standard of skinny girl with hair in color of used bast, silicone tits, and same silicone lamprey lips is really nauseous. I never buy magazines with their photos, but I have to see them on these stupid ads what are thrown in my mailbox or placed on bigboards. When I see these Barbie-Dolls, I feel only "stomach erection" - just want to vomit. And such girls as shown on my photos, are never called "sexy". I like only tall strong girls with powerful legs, like Nr. 5 on lower photo. Or this girl
    [​IMG]
    Or this
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
  25. newsouth

    newsouth Member

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    nsa repped this.

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