Thursday, 7 August 2008

The weight of the world

With a contented sigh, I can confirm that the Olympics really have properly arrived now that the Great Britain team has had its first episode of hapless calamity.

Boxer Frankie Gavin – a Genuine Gold Medal Contender. No, He Is. We Really Mean It This Time - has failed to make the correct weight for his boxing classification. He couldn't lose the cursed extra pounds in time for the weigh-in and tipped the scales 3lb too far. If you're already thinking, why can't he just fight in a heavier division, you are astute, and perhaps enjoying
Sport Mastermind as much as I am. But this is a no-go for 'Fun Time' Frankie (I'm not even making that up) because another British boxer has already qualified at that weight, and that is the Olympic Law. So now, Frankie Gavin – so special, he has a first name for a surname, like George Michael and, er, Barry George – is on his way home again with barely a scuff to his Team GB trainers.

One of the very few things I hate about saturated TV coverage of a major sporting event - and this is most true of football tournaments – is the way that the media assumes a perfect, unbroken divide between the sexes, in an 'Uh-oh, ladies. Say goodbye to 'im indoors for two weeks' kind of fashion. Men country-wide are assumed to be commencing an unbroken sofa sit-in in front of the television, building a stockade of empty beer cans around them in attempt to buffer the Endless Nagging. Every member of the female population, meanwhile, is somehow imagined to be frantically organising ladies' nights out to beige wine bars and writing impassioned letters to ITV2 begging them to repeat
Cold Feet.

To this, I can only say urgh. But still, some people believe it, and those of them who work in sports marketing must be wondering how to get more women through the turnstiles or onto the sofa, and cerebrally ingesting the commercial breaks or advertising hoardings. And they're really missing a trick in failing to exploit the weight loss issue inherent in competitive boxing. Why aren't they fighting stereotype with stereotype? After all, women everywhere, all of them, are constantly dieting, all the time, and never more so than right now, in preparation for that once-yearly beach holiday that every single one of us has, without fail, every summer. The Olympic boxing contenders may be striving to fit into the top end of an official weight bracket, rather than, say, a tiger-print two-piece with halterneck, but the principle is the same.

The readers of Closer would, I am sure, embrace a cover star like Frankie Gavin. Imagine him pictured with a championship belt cinched around his waist, customised with the markings of a tape measure, and the neon type claiming 'I lost 5lb in 24 hours and now I'm the lightweight champion of the world!' Think of the Fun Times Frankie and his boxing friends could have testing seaweed wraps for the readers of Cosmopolitan. The female sex would be cheering on the lads in no time, becoming afficionados of the sport only a short time later. And with the accusatory gaze of women's weekly magazines trained upon him, maybe Frankie would have felt sufficient pressure to shed the weight. What harsher spotlight is there, after all?

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