it would be interesting to see how much exposure a pro team could get by putting the best female on their tour team. I think a team could get a sponsor looking to market to women and VS would blab on about how great the girl on the team is. They would get a ton of exposure. every day there would be stories about competing with men. it would take a lot of stars aligning but it certainly could make financial sense.
Last edited by chasm54; 07-28-10 at 02:59 AM.
There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.
Last edited by Cat4Lifer; 07-29-10 at 01:10 PM.
Do you even know what kilometers are?
Do you honestly think that dropping the Eddy Merckx name is going to fool anybody into believing the nonsense you are writing?
A small example, the trophy sitting by the fireplace with my name on it for the national junior championships TT was won in 57min (actually not that fast) for a 40km time trial (at 1800 meters above sea level). If you know, 57min is under an hour, covering 40km. Do the math. Most of my junior races of 120km were won just at or under 3 hours, again do the math.
The bad thing about the internet is all the ignorance thats prevalent, the good side is that you can just go to the UCI website and check for results, distances and times. Even Irish juniors average above 40km/h in their races... look it up.
There is a thing called testosterone (among other hormones) found in human males at naturally far higher occurring levels than the human female species. Im not sure who we can blame for that, its just what it is. The level of difference of this hormone is responsible for several differences between human males and human females, again, Im not sure who we can blame for that either, but nonetheless, its just the way it is.
Some of these differences, among other things, make human males better candidates for extreme physical activity, especially those requiring strength, speed, and stamina/endurance.
This makes for more exciting and interesting observation, should we put a group of human males in a competitive environment/activity requiring the use of endurance and strength. As a result, those wishing to capitalize financially on such observation through entertainment packaging, would be prudent to organize groups of human males, rather than human females in competitive environments that would then be packaged as what we call races. This is all due to these physical attributes that differentiate the human male from the human female.
Now, we can ponder as to why its such a mystery, that there are differences between human males and females physically, and why as a result, males would excel in activity requiring endurance and strength given the biological advantages, or even wonder who we can blame for this, but if one were to think about it a little, the answer is quickly arrived at. Perhaps we can blame capitalism? Investors wishing to maximize profits and advertising? I mean, we can pretty much blame anything on money right?
I think its a matter of picking battles. I can think of several sports in contrast that are far more exciting to watch due to advantages women have. Ice skating, gymnastics, tennis just to mention a few, are far better to watch women competing in than men. Nobody seems to be surprised at that. Political correctness sometimes turns otherwise smart people into questioning fools.
And incidentally, Beryl Burton (who you might guess from her name was a woman - I can't imagine you'll be so well informed as to have heard of her) was time trialling faster than you almost 50 years ago. Those women are lame, alright.
Last edited by chasm54; 07-30-10 at 03:33 PM.
There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.
Nothing I said has changed, 5 day races with speeds around 40km/h. I just used my national TT junior title as an example of stages in a 5 day race.
You are comparing junior 5 day races, with womens giro 5 day race and a 3 week grand tour. Apples and oranges.
Keep it simple. 5 days, same distances. Juniors have those races, and the speeds are around 40km/h. Lets not talk of the grand tour, which is 3 times as long and 3 times as hard.
I guess I'll put my two cents in here. I could come up with a lot of other factors not mentioned about why women's racing is not as popular as the men, but it would take probably no less then 30 pages. It's an extremely complicated issue. I tend to be verbose, but the problems with women's cycling are numerous and compounded by other factors. I do notice forums are notoriously attack and defend orientated, so it' sometimes hard to find common ground to get at the truth.
Women's cycling is stuck on a merry-go-round it can't seem to get off of. The problems are both with the women, and with race promoters, race organizations, and media, print media, internet media, and big TV media. I notice in other amateur sports, women work to build their sport and even raise money to make things work. I don't see that in women's cycling. I see mostly women who race and then go home. They herd in to the starting gates like Deer caught in the headlights, can't weight to get it going, finished and then go home. That is not the way to promote a sport if you want it to grow.
If pro women would consider how to market their side of the sport, and were truly serious about implementing that, this would be a start. Often what I see is a bunch of catty capricious women who don't seem to comprehend the bigger picture. Some are enablers, users, takers who feel a sense of entitlement. They think the sport owes them something, and they can't read between the lines. I will say there are a few who are genuinely working to move the sport forward, but they are few. Most are apathetic to their situation and don't think they can make any difference.
The fact is, a single person can make a difference, I have seen it firsthand. But if no one tries, then nothing changes. The problem is also the merry-go-round thing. The women don't get paid a professional salary; they are not treated like professionals, so they don't act like professionals. This is a viscous cycle, nothing changes. When they start getting solid mainstream big Media TV coverage worldwide, and start getting paid a professional wage, ran by a professional team with solid professional managers, with the addition of professional level prize money, then, then, they will start acting and racing at a highly professional level.
Also the gene pool with solid talent will probably ramp up pretty quickly as you see more women get into cycling instead of other sports which offer a better future. Women's cycling has no future as it is, so women do not aspire to it. If you look at the current endorsements of the Worlds and the Olympic games, there are pretty lame. They get very little TV coverage, and even Nicole Cooke who won both the Worlds and the Olympics couldn't even manage to land a solid team. Goes to show you how shaky the sport is. All the top women ended up on National teams including Amber Neben, Marianne Vos and Nicole Cooke.
The main reason it's in the dumps is big media. If big media ever gives pro cycling women a chance, then things can change. If packaged correctly, women's cycling can be just as exciting, and I don't believe the fans care that much. Fans just like good action, good bang for their buck, and women can provide that. I have seen it many times, although not televised. Rarely has good action been caught on tape or live, although the worlds did when Vos won that year, and I can suggest a number of other years. However the problem clearly lies in big media for the quickest way to turn this around. The best moments of women’s pro cycling was never filmed, or aired to the public. If you don’t see it, then you don’t know what you’re missing!
True, women can also help by getting involved and being hands on in how they market themselves, and some of those glamour gals like Rochelle Gilmore or Liz Hatch doesn't hurt, it helps, but the key is in how the sport is marketed and packaged to the public. The new format of faster shorter more exciting races has been somewhat successful, but without big media, it is doomed. The UCI said it would broadcast the women's world cup series next year on TV, but I don't believe it. If that happens, this will be a huge step forward for women's cycling.
The bottom line is not speed, endurance, or power, but the image. Image is everything, it is key. If the women act professional, and they will be professional based on what I said earlier, and big media covers those events correctly and follows up with cutting edge editing and spicy profiles, then you can bet it will be very cool and a winner with the public. But things won't change as long as they are held hostage to the current big media models for all the men's pro races, where the women are not even given the smallest crumbs from that table. Things can never change on such a hugely unfair media playing field like that. Never happen. The key is big media, all the way. What they do today, is show a few seconds of the women, like as if to say, “yeah, women race bikes too, here is quick shot of that, but now back to the main action”. It’s pathetic, disgusting, and it’s very unfair.
There is so much more to this, but you get the idea for starters.
@Calico Jack. I agree with all of that, and it is compounded, of course, by the same problem that afflicts road cycling generally, namely that it costs a great deal to cover it adequately on TV. This is one factor in the recent increase in interest in both male and female cycling in the UK. The track team is a success, track events are cheap to cover for the TV and generally demand a nice short attention span on the part of the viewer, and both men's and women's events get covered. And, of course, it does no harm that Vicky Pendleton is both a world champion and prepared to be photographed naked to generate a bit of publicity, but don't get me into sexism and the relationship between sport and erotica, that's a PhD thesis on its own.
Anyway, the end result is that the British track team is getting half-decent media coverage for the first time I can remember, that is stimulating interest in the sport among girls as well as boys, and there is the potential to build on that on the road. Sky has come in largely because of the momentum that has generated. Whether it will help with women's cycling on the road is a moot point. I'd suggest the way to start is not at GT level but with crits and classics. Again in the UK, there has for the last couple of years been a national tour series of town centre crits that has been televised. The way the women are treated in this is exactly as you describe - before the main event there was a girl's race and here's 30 seconds of highlights - but as some of the track stars like Armitstead get into it there is the potential for that to change. And sponsorship of teams that can be competitive in a national crit series is a lot cheaper than setting up a TdF team.
There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.
I'm not sure on the page limits, so two parts...
It does cost a great deal to cover it on TV, but it's not so much a lack of money, but a lack of leadership. You got to have a leader, a quarterback at least. Let me give you an example. A few years ago, Comcast aired the Tour de Toona on TV nationwide in the States. That costs quite a bit of money, but it was never a money issue. TV networks are always looking for good programs and where do you think they come from?
In this example, one person went to Comcast and told them he would shoot the race, edit it, do all the special efforts and race profiles, etc. and present them with the final cut, and let them decide if it was good enough to be aired. In the end, he hand delivered the final cut beta tape to Comcast, and they ran the 90 minute race on national TV. They have the money and will spend it on AIR time if the product is good. They like sports, cause people like sports, and it doesn't matter if it's men or women, all you need is a good product.
He shot the race entirely by himself and one other guy on a moto he hired. There were two motos with TV cameras, and he hired one Helicopter for TV footage. The money was allocated from the Tour budget for TV. The coverage on TV was well worth it to give the race, and the women exposure on big media. This also put Altoona on the map.
He did all the compiling and editing of the final cut on a MAC at home with nothing more then Adobe software. He also hired one guy to come in and do studio commentary, all easily covered by the Tour budget. So while it's expensive for a TV network to televise a race nationwide, the problems really reside with photo and video journalists who have an interest to step forward and do this work. I can tell you anyone with half a heart willing to do this work will be rewarded by TV networks because sports programs are highly popular.
However, TV networks themselves won't shell out the cash to send their own crews out to do smaller races and events, especially women's events. That's about the last thing on their "to do list". However if you do it, they will quivel very little over if it's men or women races. They just want a solid well done production to air on TV. There is tons of stuff sitting in the archives today of women's races shot by Sports channels worldwide and none of it was every shown on TV. At least very little, cause they wouldn't spend the extra time and money to produce it. Most of it is sliced and diced for a five second spot on the nightly news.
In the UK, I know Eurosport has covered the Women's World TT and Road Championships very well in the past, usually an hour at least, although I was never a fan of David Duffy. Russell Williams was excellent. Phil and Paul are usually very good. Here in the states we don't get Eurosport, so we don't get any track, or anything else for that matter on the women. Last year, Universal Sports did pick up the Worlds for women which was very good, but that is all. Versus also does not cover the women, except for very tiny little spots on Nature Valley and Tour de Nez. Women's cycling in America is almost a complete blackout. At least they cover the Worlds in the UK every year.
On the Olympics, a complete wash out in 2008. In 2004, they covered the entire women's road race, almost 4 hours, the most coverage of a women's event in history. This was on the USA channel. In 2008, NBC broadcasted the road race of about 30 minutes total, split into like 6 segments placed back and forth at different intervals all during the day. Who in their right mind would sit in front of the TV all day long to see all six segments of a 30 minute road race? Pathetic is not even the words that comes to mind. They did five minutes and then cut out for a half hour. In the TT, even worse. I think it was like 10 minutes total. On Track, the coverage was so short and so split up all day long, that this was a complete washout. So right now, Big Media really blows for women's cycling.
The best covered race this year was probably the Giro De Femminile, getting an hour a day on Rai-3 for ten days straight. However, we don't get Rai-3 here, at least not easily. I had heard it was part of a specialty package on Dish TV. Liberty Classic was on TV here, but the men got 90 minutes, and the women? The women got 15 seconds at the very beginning, with the camera froze on Emila Fahlin for five seconds as they cut away for good, never to return. This is not just sexist, it borders on criminal, and certainly immoral. This is redefining women as a sub-species in cycling and this must change!
In the UK, Sky has dumped millions into the men, but hardly a penny into the women. In the UK locally, you point about starting at the lower levels might be ok the UK and local community, but when it comes to worldwide cycling crowd, they must cover the Worlds, the Olympics and the GT's in all it's glory in order for Pro Women's Road Cycling to advance. The masses have no interest in Mom and Pop's classics, they want to see the big guns.
Vicky P. has made a name for herself, and she is more about Vicky P. as a glamour girl and model then about cycling, although she is a World Class Champion. Her fans fall more on the sexy crowd then those who admire her for her achievements. While her sexy status and all the fame that came her way is in some small way good for cycling, in the end, cycling will always be about athletic performance. Those stars will always take center stage, but good looking healthy athletic women always help to boost the ranks and polish up the sport for the masses.
The problem is there have been no superstars with both good looks and good talent since Leontien Van Moorsel who was offered big money to pose in Playboy. The answer is not for cycling women to take their clothes off, although I'm sure Huge Heffner would like that, the answer is for more high profile women to enter the cycling ranks instead of they typical tattoo butch crossover gender types we see so often now. That doesn't help the sport, IMO, but they have every right to race. I'm also not inclined to enjoy races where women have mud caked to their faces, the mud wrestling cycling thing. I don't think that turns the masses on much, and it's degrading to women, IMO.
In Las Vegas, you will see a lot of healthy attractive athletic women who take good paying goods in the entertainment industry, and certainly the Dallas Cheerleaders are made up of healthy beautiful women. If the sport was on a more professional level with the men, then you would see more high profile women flock to cycling, like exists in Ice Skating, Tennis, and so on. If the sport stays in the gutter, then it's only going to attract the lower elements. So we really need to work at raising the bar with women's pro cycling worldwide. Even the most high profile women in the sport today like Rochelle Gilmore and Emma Johansson are getting paid almost nothing, and it's more like charity on their part just to stay in the sport. They could be doing other gigs. As long as this backward model exists, women will not aspire to pro cycling.
I considered a number of the Grande Boucle and Giro de Femminile editions to rank up there as historic races based on competition, number of stages, difficulty of the climbs, etc. This year edition of the Giro for women was considered historic as it's the first time this race has gone up the Stelvio, 9000+ feet in elevation. Typically GT's for women will most likely always be a Europe thing. They don't seem to work in the states. We like to layer our races, as where in Europe there are many races set aside just for women. However, the departure of the Grande Boucle was regrettably sad.
Problems arise when women have to compete directly against men or when they do exactly the same thing as men. (Tennis is, IMO, an exception.) There's only so much time in the day. If I'm going to watch others do something, I want it to be the best performance that I'll ever see. Can women approach men's performance level in cycling? Yes. Can they equal it? No. Will there be exceptions? Probably, but the general level of performance will always be inferior. So I'll watch the Tour of California or the Tour de France, but otherwise will prefer to go out riding.
Man on the moon... have they ever tried to send anybody to the moon?
Bike racing, unless it's a crit or a track event, does not work for fans roadside, and only a few people on the whole face of the earth would consider following a stage race around for a week. Clearly without Big Media TV, Women's road racing is a total secret sport kept well away from the masses who typically view their sports on TV. Covering a indoor-outdoor stadium event is also much, much easier then following a bike race all around Italy for 10 days. It actually requires a TV crew on a moto for several hours to follow the riders and do the shooting from start to finish. This is a hard sport to follow and cover for sure, no doubt about it.
Also fans tend to be couch potatoes and like to sit in one place while drinking Pepsi and eating Hot Dogs. Being a active fan of road racing requires a lot of energy, knowing the lay of the land, and being in the right spot at the right time in order to be lucky enough to see something spectacular, as where stationary sports, all you have to do it wait cause you can't miss anything, unless you went to get a Hot Dog when something awesome happens. Clearly TV is the only way to deliver road racing to the public. Track doesn't do well here in the states. They never show any track on TV, except the Worlds and the Olympics, and what they do show is pathetic as far as coverage goes.
I don't believe in women competing against men, unless you want to level the playing field by giving them testosterone injections. However on the flip side, men cheat with drugs like they are eating candy, so the effect is that men seem to have a huge advantage with viewer perception when it comes to strength, stamina, speed and endurance. Women's pro cyclists by and large don't use drugs at all, cause they don't get paid millions like Lance and company does. So the current media models are skewed, unrealistic, unfair, and highly dubious when it comes to athletic role models. Yet this has had almost no effect on how big media runs their business. It's a cash cow, and they care about little else.
In Tennis, I don't seem much of a difference in what fans enjoy, be it men or women. Certainly Anna K. was a golden period for women, but Chris Everett was also someone that fans loved to watch. Stef Graff was also well liked by fans. You didn't get the sense of performance values as far as comparing men to women, as much as fans just love to see these women play tennis. In Ice Skating, it's even seems less to compare as fans also loved to see certain favorites or darlings of the Ice. Some of the men’s feats like a quad flip were one trick ponies which only held someone's attention for a moment, but by and large women enjoyed and held the fans on the ice.
The only thing I don't like about Gymnastics and Ice Skating is Big Media seems to get a free pass on showing 12 year girls skate or jump around in their underwear, at times stretching their legs out for all the world to see. I think that's very unseemly and not appropriate for little girls to be doing that under the guise of professional sports. If you think about it, it's a type of soft po-rn where little girls run around half naked on TV doing weird postures with their legs. I suppose if we are going to make this acceptable and legal, then at least I think grown women should be the ones to decide if they want to do it, instead of little girls being told what to do because they are too young to know any better. It's a morale choice, and they are typically too young to decide for themselves. I don't like little girls being used by professional sports in the big media scene.