Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jul 23 2015, Page 17

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - July 23, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE B3 winnipegfreepress. com WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2015 B 3 Monday, August 10, 2015 Niakwa Country Club, 620 Niakwa Rd. Winnipeg, MB. 10: 30 a. m. Registration, 12 p. m. Shotgun start, 4: 30 p. m. Cocktail reception Manitoba’s Premier Charitable Golf Tournament Is Back! Register your team Today! 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Apotex Bockstael Construction Ltd Guertin Equipment Independent Jewellers KPMG Management Services LP Kleysen Group LP Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Medtronic of Canada National Bank Financial Wealth Management Richardson International Limited Solinsky Consulting Inc Starlite TechWeb Mon - Thur 10am - 6pm Fri 10am- 8pm, Sat 10: 30am - 6pm 120 Higgins Ave. www. e- rc. ca 204- 947- 2865 or 1- 800- 870- 6346 acebook Like us on KICK OFF YOUR WITH A PIT STOP AT k n SUMMER FUN • Heating • Air Conditioning • Sales & Service • Annual Services • Financing Available 204- 256- 2681 MECHANICAL HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING 3- 2091 Plessis Road gallerymechanical. ca • canprohvac. com * SOME CONDITIONS MAY APPLY G ET A FR EE WITH THE P U R CHASE OF A A I R CON DITI ON E R FU RNA CE We See Hope, Courage & Inspiration... EST. 1977 M a n i t o b a R i d i n g F o r T h e D i s a b l e d A s s o c i a t i o n I n c . www. mrda. cc We See Ability Please Donate • 204.925.5905 I F you run a Google Image search for “ women’s beach volleyball,” there is an entire subsection devoted to “ bums.” Row upon row of close- up photos of tanned, toned buns. If you Google “ women’s beach volleyball players” the first autocomplete search is “ in super slow motion.” Since it was officially minted as an Olympic sport in 1996 — and made its debut at the Pan Am Games right here in Winnipeg in 1999 — women’s beach volleyball, in particular, has become a popular spectator sport. Which makes sense: it’s always exciting to watch elite, agile athletes compete. But these elite, agile athletes also happen to compete in bikinis. And frustratingly, many female beach volleyball players are reduced to their outfits by the breathless and often sexist coverage of their sport. ( In 2012, The Associated Press ran a piece about players at the London 2012 Summer Olympics having to cover up due to cooler temperatures. The headline for this story that shouldn’t have existed? Bye- bye bikinis .) Bikinis were, up until the London 2012 Summer Olympics, one of two uniform choices approved by the FIVB, the international volleyball federation. Now, women can wear shorts if they choose — just like men! Men compete in shorts and tank tops, not shirtless and in Speedos. Still, it seems female beach volleyball athletes — including those competing in Toronto at the 2015 Pan Am Games — are opting for the bikini, many of them citing functionality as a reason. I’m conflicted on this subject. On one hand, I support and respect a woman’s decision to wear whatever she wants. Her body, her choice. But is the bikini- as- uniform really a choice — or is it a choice with an asterisk? In 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympics, Time ’s Eliana Dockterman wrote an eye- opening piece about female Olympic athletes and the pressures they face. Being the very best in the world is not enough, it seems, to land important, career- sustaining endorsement deals. No, not only do you have to be an elite athlete — you have to be an elite athlete who is considered attractive by society’s standards. So, ripped, but not too ripped. Muscular but still thin. Usually white, but tanned. Preferably blond. Many Olympians — including U. S. beach volleyball silver medalist Jennifer Kessy — are also faces for CoverGirl. The tag from her 2012 commercial: “ I’m going for the gold — and the pink.” The pressure for these athletes is on, and not just in competition. Not only do female athletes have to sell sexiness, they have to do it on deadline: they have just a few weeks to capitalize on the exposure international competitions such as the Olympics afford them, before the focus returns to men’s athletics. But they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t. The athletes who leverage their looks get pilloried for it. Those who don’t, don’t get the deals. Female beach volleyball players are especially damned if they do, damned if they don’t — thanks to their uniforms. Many players acknowledge the bikini gets people through the door, but it’s not the T. & A. that gets them to stay. As U. S. beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh told the Telegraph in 2011, “ When they get here they’ll find a compelling, exciting sport. Guaranteed.” While it’s disappointing it takes a peek of a cheek to get some people through the door, it’s not the bikini that undermines these women. It’s our reaction to it. When more of a focus is placed on what an athlete is wearing or how she looks as opposed to what her body actually does, we all lose. Because this isn’t just about taking female athletes in bikinis seriously. It’s about taking all female athletes seriously. jen. zoratti@ freepress. mb. ca Focus on flesh diminishes all of us Ample displays of skin shouldn’t be needed to boost female sports DARREN CALABRESE / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Winnipeg’s Taylor Pischke makes a dig during women’s beach volleyball action against Costa Rica at the Pan Am Games in Toronto last weekend. JEN ZORATTI B_ 03_ Jul- 23- 15_ FP_ 01. indd B3 7/ 22/ 15 8: 56: 21 PM

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