The dreams, the sacrifices, the glory, the pageantry, Bob Costas—I don't care if the Winter Olympics are the "less fun cousin" of the Summer Games, for the next two weeks I intend to plant myself in front of the TV and watch as much of the action in Vancouver as possible, starting with tonight's Opening Ceremonies.
In Olympic tradition, 216 athletes will march behind our flag tonight as members of the U.S. Olympic team—123 men, 93 women. But, according to Olympic Women and the Media, a new book by University of Alberta professor Pirkko Markula, the women will have received only 5 percent of pre-Olympics media coverage, and will receive only 25.2 percent during the Games, despite composing half of the team. When those female Olympians do receive attention, Markula notes, it tends to be for their appearance rather than their skill.
Case in point: American skier Lindsey Vonn. She's competing in her third Olympics at age 25, is the current world champion in the Downhill Super-G, and a two-time World Cup season overall champion. She's considered America's best hope for gold in Vancouver. But when Sports Illustrated featured her on the cover of their Olympic Preview issue last week, Lindsey Vonn, world-class athlete, became Lindsey Vonn, Olympic sex symbol.
On the cover, Vonn wears her Team USA uniform, standard gear, and what at least resembles standard tuck form for her sport. The cover ignited a controversy over the sexualization of female athletes, though perhaps unfairly, since it's nearly identical to the 1992 Olympic Preview cover, which featured male skier A. J. Kitt. But then Vonn appeared again in this week's issue: the annual Swimsuit issue. Vonn, along with three other female Olympians, wears a bikini in the ...1
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