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  • Is there Hope for marketing the Canadian women's team?



    The biggest star on both the Canadian and American women’s teams found themselves in the news yesterday. However, they found themselves there for very different reasons.

    In Canada – sincere, ole’ Canada – Christine Sinclair was named the flag-bearer for the Canadian team for this month’s Pan American Games in Guadalajara. It’s a deserved honour and one that will keep Sinclair in the news for at least a couple hours. Site’s like this will give it a mention or two and Canadian Press will write 500 nice words.

    In the United States, meanwhile, Hope Solo is getting naked.


    Solo will appear in the buff (tastefully, of course) for ESPN the Magazine annual body issue, the magazine’s answer to Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition. This will likely generate a tad bit more attention than Sinclair’s flag waving in Mexico. Entire blogs may be created dedicated to nothing but analysis of Solo’s photo shoot.

    It’s the latest way that Solo has managed to get herself attention and, by doing so, keep attention on the U.S. women’s national team.

    Her decision to pose for the magazine will be questioned by some, but many more will view it as a strong female athlete taking full advantage of her physical gifts to benefit herself and her teammates. Should female athletes have to take their clothes off to generate attention? Of course not. However, it’s naive to think that society has evolved to the point where that’s the case.

    The Canadian women’s players are a bit naive in this regard.

    We must be careful about how we put this (and, to be clear, this is not an attempt to take away from the honour Sinclair received – that was simply an illustration of the contrast between the programs). No player should ever feel pressure to do anything that they are not comfortable with. Ever. Period. However, every player should also feel comfortable doing anything that they do feel comfortable with.

    CSN was told that about a year ago a couple members of the women’s team approached a major Canadian marketing company and asked them to help them find more sponsorship money for the women’s team. They felt that their wholesome, all-Canadian-ness would be something that Canadian companies would get behind. They were clear that they did not want to be viewed as sex symbols, but rather as athletes.

    Good for them. Really. However, it wasn’t good for the bottom line that they were looking for. The women were sent away with a harsh message – in the opinion of the marketer they had no value.


    As stated, harsh. And the women’s performance in Germany did not help their cause.

    The women are absolutely right to want to be seen as athletes. The thing is, however, there is a middle ground. Solo walks it. You can be athletic and feminine, strong and sexy. And, it’s every bit as empowering – maybe more so – to own that than it is to hold onto what you view as a moral high ground.

    Please do not mistake this as a chauvinistic attempt to get the women to wear skimpier outfits. Rather, it’s a call for them to take full advantage of the fact that the 2015 World Cup is in Canada and to not be held back by the mores of the most conservative within their numbers.

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