Wednesday 23 May 2012

A strange choice for Sky Ride spokesperson

The Sky Rides have done a good job of introducing more people to cycling - each event has been a success with everyone from hardcore racing cyclists to families on their way home from Halfords with a roof rack full of new machines showing up to experience the pleasure of riding in a group that, in some cases, has numbered thousands. It's good, therefore, to see that the Rides are being covered on ITV's Lorraine talk show next Tuesday (ITV1, 08:30, 29th of May); because it'll bring them to the attention of a whole new audience who might otherwise never have heard of them.

One question, though. Why is Kelly Brook on the show to talk about them? I've got nothing against Brook personally and, like most models, she's far more intelligent than the stereotype portrayed in the media. But why have Sky decided to have as their spokesperson a woman who became (and primarily remains) famous for taking her clothes off, rather than one who is associated more with cycling? There are plenty to choose from in the Team GB track team, after all.

Do they think that a glamour model will help to sell cycling? If so, they're mistaken: as Mary Jo Kane of the University of Minnesota argues, sex sells sex, not sport, and in fact attempting to use sex to sell sport damages not just women's sport, but sport in general (by sport, incidentally, I mean activities taken up in order to improve fitness, in addition to competition).

Road racer and cyclo crosser Nikola Butler tweeted...
Nikola Butler ‏@nik_tweet
@Cyclopunk apparently women identify with her better than an actual cyclist. God knows how they figured that out
Really, Sky? Women with an interest in cycling (or at least, women who may develop an interest in cycling, which are surely the target audiences for the Lorraine segment since the show is aimed at women) identify more with a 34E-24-34 glamour/lingerie model and TV star best known from Page 3 and smutty calendars than they would do with a female cyclist best known for, erm, cycling? Someone like Victoria Pendleton, or Laura Trott, or Jo Rowsell, or Dani King or any one of the other world-class athletes you could have picked to appear on the show? Or somebody like Josie Dew? It probably wouldn't take someone as clever as Dr. Kane to pick holes in that.

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