Whether you're an avid soccer fan or not, if you do a quick search of the World Cup's soccer players, you're pretty much guaranteed to run into a round up of the sexiest players in the game. With the likes of soccer forwards Diego Forlán and Cristiano Ronaldo (who play for the Uruguay and Portugal team, respectively), heating up the field with their unquestionable talent — or irresistible looks depending on who you ask — swooning becomes as easy as breathing.
That being said, if we were to strip away all of the playful innuendos and close up shots of the team's insanely sculpted bodies, their Instagram selfies, the amazing influx of lists highlighting these players' best assets (in more ways than one) brings forth this question: Is our fawning over the looks of the sport's most valuable players all in pure fun or are we subconsciously contributing to a much bigger issue?
If we were to substitute the Ronaldos and the Piqués for say, a snapshot of American forward Alex Morgan (who almost always peaks at number one on the lists of the hottest women in sports), would these lists celebrating the men for their "scorching bods" or "bulging pecs" be as enjoyable or would they take on another meaning? When it comes to women's sports, you'd be surprised at the amount of times I've had to suppress an eye roll at sports coverage sites that report more on the female athletes' physique than the actual game; on the other hand, I'll be the first to admit that I've never really thought much about fellow fans commenting on how beautiful their favorite players are (or mentally planning their futures together). In fact, half of my time is probably spent cheering on my allstar teams while secretly creeping on Forlán and that luscious hair of his. So what makes this any different?
Whichever way we try to shape it, isn't praising team Italy for Mario Balotelli's chiseled jaw or England's goalkeeper Ben Foster for being the perfect eye candy just another form of objectification?
ScienceDaily recently argued that women who play sports are not only underrepresented, but are usually depicted in a sexualized manner, stating that the "sexualisation (sic) of sportswomen in Sunday reporting is commonplace and aimed at the mostly male readership. It promotes the idea of female aesthetics over achievements, while the coverage of women not directly involved in sport misrepresents the place of women in sport and inferiorizes real sportswomen's achievements."
Watching the media flip the script on this (and basically shout all bets are off) by voting on the players' overall hotness is a bit ironic. In this age of social media where pages such as twitter handle EverydaySexism make it a point to document the sheer amount of gender bias still happening around the world, not to mention the fact that women have had to face sexism for years, it wouldn't really come as a shock if most feel this is just fair game.
What do you think? Are we playing into a double standard? Tell us in the comments below.