Basketball And The Sexualization Of Sports
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Basketball And The Sexualization Of Sports

Is it all just a dirty game?

Basketball And The Sexualization Of Sports
Cardinal Sports Zone

Let me start out by saying I love college basketball. Actually, my entire extended family does. Now, of course, within that, I have my team (rock, chalk, Jayhawk all the way), but growing up with it always on the television, I also just developed a love for basketball as a sport. Whether a fan, player or coach, there is an adrenaline rush that comes with a good game of basketball and the victory that may follow. That victory offers a natural high that can be addictive. That said, sometimes, that “W” record can be a little too addictive—or even downright seductive. Such was the case with the recent scandal at University of Louisville in Kentucky.

The recently released tell-all book by Louisville call girl Katina Powell, legitimized by her writing partnership with Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Dick Cady, startled fans of both the team and the sport. In it, she alleges that U of L staffers hired strippers and prostitutes as a "perk" for high school seniors visiting the school on basketball recruiting visits. The accusations are currently under review by the NCAA, and U of L head coach Rick Pitino continues denying all allegations, according to ESPN. Regardless of who knew what and who did what, the apparent reality is that someone--or someones--in the U of L basketball staff willingly used the bodies of women as a bargaining chip to help collect a winning team. However, as we wait for the NCAA's final report, perhaps what we should be concerned about is not the actual allegations but rather how easy it is to believe them. While the public acts scandalized by this story, no one doubts that--in the world of competitive college recruiting--the accusations could very easily be true. The reality is that this situation is merely symptomatic of a problem far greater than what has allegedly happened at Louisville—a larger issue that is being all too easily swept under the rug.

There always has been a sports-sex connection. That is not hidden. Just take a look at the increasingly skin-baring outfits mandated for the cheerleaders on the sidelines or even just the commercials on ESPN during time-outs. For a nation that proudly boasts to be all about equality and women’s rights, how is it that our universities—self-proclaimed to be bastions of progressive thought and defenders of gender equality—have become one of the major sources and supporters of objectification of women. Why, when it comes to sports, do values suddenly go out the window?

Perhaps it is not so much that values are forgotten as we see what is actually valued most in our culture: We like to win. Winning is the goal and although we would never admit to it, our actions confirm that the general public cares far more about that than they do about upholding their supposedly precious view of morality. Yes, the media are talking about the Louisville incident. However, no one is talking about the greater issue that underlies it. So, while sanctions may be taken against U of L, while one or two people may lose their jobs, and while there will be many issued statements of apology, at the end of the day, everything will go back to normal. This scandal will be forgotten, and colleges will continue to do whatever they need to do in order to get the best players. They will just learn not to get caught.

I recognize that I sound cynical, but remember I really do love college basketball. However, it becomes an issue when love for a sport becomes more valuable to a culture and individuals than respect for humanity. It is possible to have a fantastic team without inducing them to sign with sexual favors. Basketball—and sports generally—can be enjoyed without becoming wrapped up in sexuality. Today, however, that is simply not the situation and it is a tragedy that the pure competition, enjoyment and exhilaration of a sport like basketball remains tainted by this twisted view and over-sexualizing of women.

What would change this? A public that decided to wake up and care. A public that would not support a team that took unethical actions. A public that cared more about values than victories. We have to stop turning a blind eye and happily forgetting scandals like U of L, if we actually want things to change. However, here in the United States, we love our basketball, we love our sports, and we love our win records. Unfortunately, unless and until that changes, scandals like the Louisville call girl debacle will remain an all-too-present reality.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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