Yet, on the track, court or pitch, it doesn’t matter what you look like. It is down to your speed and technical ability, whether you will win or lose. However, off the track, that is not the case.
David Beckham was one of the best footballers in the world, but he wasn’t the best. Yet, he was the best for marketability.
Take the winner of 2013 Wimbledon Marion Bartoli. At the time she was judged on how her physique didn’t fit the mold of most female tennis players. But that said not many female athletes can say that have the physique of Serena Williams either. However, neither the winner of Wimbledon nor the world’s number 1 Female tennis player was able to beat the marketability of Maria Sharapova. Maria Sharapova earned the most money out of all Sportswomen. It can be said that her slighter frame is more of the stereotype of female athletes.
For women, in order to secure sponsorship and media coverage, winning really isn’t enough! Marketability takes the gold!
However, with sponsorship comes notoriety and money. Unfortunately, along with both of those you will receive judgement and envy. Sadly, i think this is more so for female athletes.
Men judge women, women judge other women. Making it either a win win or lose lose situation for female athletes.
If you win and you are what the world deems beautiful; you will make a lot of money on and off the track, court and pitch. However, if you lose, the amount of dedication you show in training will be question hard? And your looks will be used against you as proof you are more style than substance.
The Media and people are quick to forget, that being a national level athlete is no easy accomplishment. Only hard work gets you to being ranked one of the top athletes in the world like Lolo Jones. Off the track other factors influence the amount of money you make. But on the track only ability gets you to olympic finals, championships and world rankings.
How do sports stars make so much money when they aren’t winning competitions?
We live in a world where sport generates a viewing public. That public is then eager to participate in the sports themselves. In order to participate they are then sold the items worn or associated with the athletes they admire. To some extent, the money from those sales is then sent back into the sport to pay the athletes to keep competing… continuing the cycle. However, the cycle doesn’t need the athletes to win, it just needs them to be the either the most aesthetic or the most likeable in commercials and print advertisements. Usain Bolt is the best but also the most charismatic. This is why he makes more money than other dominate athletes like Shelly-Anne Fraser Pryce or David Rudisha. Or for instance the case of Lolo Jones. At one point she was America’s Golden athletes destined to bring home the gold in the 100m hurdles. Her dream and talent combined with her looks made her very marketable. Thus, she was on many ad campaigns right up until the point in which she hit a hurdle and failed to achieve her golden dream. Despite that she still made a lot more money than most of her competitors. Lolo admitted that a lot of this marketability was based on her fitting the beauty standard society looked up to or admired. It wasn’t her fault, she couldn’t ‘stop being beautiful’.
The question; is this fair?
As Lolo said, you can’t stop being what the media perceive as beautiful. Just as most people won’t turn down a lucrative sponsorship; even if it is partly based on their ability, but also on their beauty/personality. It is unfair to expect people who also have bills to pay to turn down a paycheck. But that doesn’t mean they don’t train hard!
You can’t blame the athlete. You can only blame society…
We are the ones who sometimes value style over substance.
We are the ones who help to construct and solidify the perception of “what is beauty”
So, how do we make it fair?
Give more of your likes, followers, reposts and shoutouts to athletes who are winning competitions and taking home the gold. Then you can balance out the style and the substance. This will help to stop the envy and the judgement!
Lastly, it will help young girls see and understand that women come in all shapes and sizes. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes. And they do not have to fit into a Maria Sharapova frame if are built more like a Marion Bartoli.
What is your opinion? Do you think it is fair how much money some sports people make compared to others?