Google+ Consumer Psyche: Wimbledon, The beauty contest


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wimbledon, The beauty contest

Wimbledon, of course, is not a beauty contest. But All England Club spokesman Johnny Perkins has admitted that good looks are a factor in scheduling Centre Court matches, adding "it's not a coincidence that those (on Centre Court) are attractive." The howls of outrage that have followed ignore that the attractiveness of players does have a role to play in winning fans for the game. And it's viewership that brings in the money that enables contests like Wimbledon to be held. Scheduling Centre Court matches is a small matter; it isn't as if competent players are being kept out of the tournament on the basis of their looks.

As a BBC spokesperson pointed out, "Our preference would be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing ratings." Looks have had a prominent role to play in women's tennis since the days of Chris Evert. Or does anyone truly believe that Anna Kournikova was popular because of the astounding skills that saw her win, well, not a single Grand Slam? Many of the players themselves have made no secret about the importance they attach to their glamour quotient. Why the indignation when the organisers decide to do the same?

The logic, in fact, should be extended to men's tennis as well. Physical attractiveness has had a role to play there as well, from Bjorn Borg to Boris Becker to Roger Federer. Little wonder that Andre Agassi had acquired cult status in his first, flamboyant avatar even though the quality of his tennis was far superior in the latter stages of his career. Let the Wimbledon organisers factor this in while scheduling their matches; what is sound business for women's tennis is sound business for men's.

It is hardly as if the issue of looks is taking over the tournament. Perkins added later that 'box-office appeal' was just one of the 28 factors considered while scheduling matches. And the winner at the end of the day will still be the player with the stronger game.

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