An Olympics for every body
So there we were, sitting in front of the telly watching the Games and being reminded what a truly wonderful spectacle it is. The colour, the pageantry, the thrills and skills … you all know this.
Every four years the world lets its hair down and relaxes.
Or does it?
Something started to dawn on me as we flicked from channel to channel. Watching the men’s track events, my wife sighed wistfully, “Why they don’t show the men from front on any more?”
Obviously she was referring to what might be termed that ‘Matt Shirvington angle’. You know the one.
The runners coming straight at the camera, muscles bunching and heaving, faces strained with effort, hair flying in the wind and costumes bouncing outrageously in that spot where no amount of toning will stop the flop.
Men like to watch the women’s beach volleyball. It’s pretty obvious what the main attraction is.
Of course the athletes are supremely skilful but come on, admit it. Those costumes are pretty skimpy and long may that continue – they may even have practical value for the athletes.
Even conservative London Lord-Mayor Boris Johnson got a bit excited and described the female volleyballers as “glistening like wet otters”. Presumably otters have strict guidelines on what they’re allowed to wear as well.
However if you really study the coverage you’ll start to notice that the cameramen tend to do their best to not broadcast what’s on show. The bottom of the frame tends to stay around the navel where possible.
No complaints about that, although one wonders why the governing body Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (translated: Society of the Riding Brief) would bother to set regulations on what the athletes can wear on the court when the broadcasters seem to self-censor.
This is apparently known as an ‘undress code’. If the idea is to attract viewers to the sport with a little bit of titillation then more power to it.
If it’s not, that’s the outcome and the millions of hooked male spectators must be considered a bonus. Ask most blokes what Games events they’ve been checking out and women’s beach volleyball will be near the top of the list.
This is why my wife’s comment pulled me up – of course it goes both ways.
Right now there are a few pictures of Swedish decathlete Björn Barrefors doing the rounds on the Internet.
This fellow isn’t even competing at these Games and yet he’s got hearts a-flutter and a lot of people talking. Little wonder: by the looks of him, he’s carrying an old style dial telephone around in the front of his costume.
So as a promotional ‘tool’ one mustn’t underestimate the power of the Matt Shirvington angle on the normal, red blooded female. If they flick to the sprinting and see a cut, buff athlete straining against his lycra bodysuit as he strains on the track, coming straight for us, bulging and heaving and bouncing and wobbling and flopping, they’re not going to change the channel.
“We can tape Grey’s Anatomy” is the refrain that echoes around the world when those boys are on the charge.
Is it the sponsors that are a bit nervous of a bit of jiggle? If so, they’re missing a trick. All sorts of logos could be printed on the exact spot they seem to want to pretend doesn’t exist. Imagine Coca-Cola’s Dynamic Ribbon Device (©) dynamically flowing and fluttering as a ripped specimen of perfected male comes thundering towards us?
Makes you feel like a Coke, doesn’t it?
Imagine the Olympic Rings printed across those bikini bottoms at the beach volleyball. They’d be carefully studied and seared into the minds of millions. Even Boris Johnson could get his next campaign slogan plastered across the front of some glistening otter’s one-piece at the pool.
There was a time when Olympic athletes competed in the nude. Perversely, this was perhaps seen as a form of modesty and purity when performing in front of the Gods.
Are we sure we really want to annoy those same Gods by leaving the best bits out of shot?
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