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LOPIANO WONDERS WHY SPORTS BIZ IS "SO FAR BEHIND" SOCIETY
Published November 17, 1998
"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).