SBD/17/Sports Society

LOPIANO WONDERS WHY SPORTS BIZ IS "SO FAR BEHIND" SOCIETY

          "At a time when society is extremely critical of words
     and images that are disrespectful to women, why is the
     sports business so far behind?," wonders Women's Sports
     Foundation Exec Dir Donna Lopiano in an op-ed in
     SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL.  Noting Katarina Witt's appearance
     in Playboy and Great Western Forum President Jeannie Buss
     appearing in SI naked "except for basketballs covering her
     breasts" in a piece titled, "She's Got Balls," Lopiano
     writes, "These are talented white-collar journalists,
     respected sports magazines and newspapers and business
     executives who have chosen to portray women in sports and
     women's sports in a certain way. ... Sports leaders --
     editors, commissioners, owners, athletic directors,
     journalists and athletes -- define the sports business and
     culture.  What do we want it to be? ... Will we give
     sportswomen ... the admiration, dignity and respect they
     deserve and the same admiration, dignity and respect
     afforded male athletes and executives?  It's up to you"
     (Donna Lopiano, SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/16 issue).  
          NO PROGRESS FOR WOMEN: In Denver, Diane Carman wrote
     that the female "athlete is a tough sell.  Unless, of
     course, she takes her clothes off.  For all those who would
     argue that folks just aren't interested in women athletes,
     we offer Exhibit A: the December issue of Playboy."  Carman:
     "Playboy isn't revealing how much it paid her, but it's a
     fair guess it was more than Campbell Soup ever offered.  But
     not every female athlete is, ahem, comfortable with this
     form of self-expression.  And plenty of them would like to
     soak up even a fraction of the attention lavished on male
     athletes. ... At this point, getting naked to get attention
     is hardly a sign of progress" (DENVER POST, 11/14).
          FREED TO DO WHAT SHE WANTS: In Denver, Vicki Michaelis
     profiles Phyllis Freed, one of the "few" female player
     agents.  Statistically, fewer than 10 agents representing
     athletes in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB are women, but Freed
     said the number of women who want to be sports agents "is
     growing."  Michealis notes the challenges of women entering
     the business and quotes NFLPA Dir of Research Mike
     Duberstein as saying, "I think the real challenge is being a
     woman and being able to get clients -- largely because other
     agents are going to tell prospective clients the clubs
     aren't going to respect a woman" (DENVER POST, 11/17).

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