I’m debating whether I will post this blog or not (spoiler: I did!) The reason why I am hesitant is because I don’t want to come off looking like a sore loser.
Well, not for the reasons you might think.
The truth is, I am a sore loser, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the contest. Er, obviously I am talking about (and, eventually, not talking about) the TFC Dream Job. However, I feel like I have to trend lightly here because I’m worried that what I am trying to say will get misconstrued as “sour grapes,” when really I want to be construed as, “holy shit! You’re right!”
Anyway, back to the issue at hand. In order for you to understand what I am talking about, you need to check out this link (assuming you are not a TFC fan who has been following this rabidly): http://apps.facebook.com/tfcdreamjob/contests/189938/prize_giving
I want you to take a minute and consider the guy pictures versus the girl pictures. Now, this may all be coincidental, but the professional, crisp, clear, and sharp female photos are a bit better quality than the men’s, no?
Hold onto that thought as we discuss this contest for a second. Or con-test if you will (get it? Because people have been calling shenanigans on the whole thing? Get it?!) Whether intentional or not, that “winners” page pretty much sums everything up for me. You see, no matter how qualified the women are (and I am sure many, if not all, are), you’re forced to look at them superficially before you look at them professional.
This is where I stop caring about the TFC contest and start caring about the future of women in sport. Which, to me, is a bigger issue than winning a year contract.
So, let’s talk about women in sports. Er, I don’t mean playing sports, I mean, women reporting on them. That’s where I take issue and that’s where my sore loserishness comes in: I don’t wish I won the contest, I wish that women were better represented in sports, rather being an attractive looking fact-giver.
Sure, this may be an unfair, blanket comment, but for the most part, I think it’s true and I also think the TFC contest shows the surface value of it both metaphorically and literally. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable the women in the next round are, the first thing you’ll see is their clear, crisp picture before reading into their bios. For the men, their out-of-focus, not professional, taken-by-their-friend, picture is just one more thing you have to click through to see their credentials. The women? That’s the one thing you see before their credentials.
This is not to say anything against the women who are running, in fact, I wish them well. But I am curious, if they had the same credentials, the same skills, the same profile, and a normal “guy-quality picture,” would they still be up there? Or more importantly, would you have clicked to read their bios?
At this point, it’s important to say that I am not saying “a pretty girl” cannot do the job, not at all. What I am saying, is that the way this contest was set up, reflecting the way sports media in general is set up, the “pretty girl” is always what’s seen first, whether or not the “pretty girl” is also a “capable” one. As a fan of the sport, I find it irritating, annoying, insulting, and limiting, that if I ever wanted to get into the industry, I would always have to think : sure, I got the brains, but am I cute enough? Will anyone bother to listen to me?
I’m not saying that I know everything there is to know about soccer, not in the least. Hell, I’ve been calling Vincenzo Montella, “Vincenzo Nutella” for the past six years, but that’s not the point I am trying to make; this isn’t actually about me. Rather, it's about all the women in the industry who feel the same way it do, that nagging feeling that, no matter how self assured you are of yourself, that still makes you can't help but think, "is how I look holding me back?" Prove me wrong; hold a similar contest (er, not TFC, this one was so awful that I hope they never do it again. Seriously, how many people made it through to the next round mentioned other trademarks? At least stick to your own rules!), but don’t have pictures sent in, I wonder what the finalists would “look like” then.
I love soccer, but I never, ever want to get into a soccer reporting/broadcasting industry where my looks would be considered first and foremost. Am I sore loser? Damn straight. But it’s not because of the contest. I stopped caring about that a long time ago when I realized I would be compared to other female candidates, rather than to other candidates, period. I am a sore loser because, to me, soccer is more important than how big I smile at a camera, and unfortunately that attitude just won’t make the cut in the industry.
It’s easier to be a writer (well, in my case, a blogger); I can hide behind a screen with my hair up in a messy ponytail and wearing Chelsea shirt and no one will judge me except on my quality (or lack thereof) of writing.
And maybe the Chelsea shirt.
And I’m totally okay with that. Actually, I’m relieved. I have never really worried about being judged on my looks, because I have my wit, charm, brilliance, and modesty to make up for anything (you think) I may lack. And all my above thoughts were only reinforced when this tweet appeared in my timeline:
“I hope Person X (male) wins, but I wouldn’t mind looking at Person Y (female) all season.”
No matter how good Person Y is, she’ll always be thought about as the above quote. And until attitudes and thoughts like that are changed, I’ll be more pissed off than disappointed in the industry.
Post script: I am not trying to say anything against TFC, this whole thing is actually the complete opposite; it's about how the sport comes before anything else for me. In fact, I've been prepping for Wednesday's game for the past few days, see:
(teehee, I’m so clever. Get it? Because I’m not in the picture? Ahh, forget it…)