The Olympics celebrate the ‘body beautiful’ in a way as hundreds of well sculpted and pumped up athletes, both male and female, expend themselves to go ‘faster, higher & stronger’ in quest of precious metal. Of course, it is not always the best looking athlete that often lands on the podium as there is more to winning that just being in prime physical condition.
But the Dutch women’s field hockey team are garnering more than their fair share of attention at London 2012, not merely for their prowess – they are the defending champions and have already breezed into the semi-finals by winning their first four pool matches on the trot – but also for their looks. In fact, they have already struck gold by annexing an unofficial but “highly coveted” award handed out by a few online entities — “the most beautiful team at the Olympics”.
While the honour has been bestowed on the collective which is described as “smoking and hot”, individual players like defender Sophie Polkamp and midfielder Ellen Hoog have been singled out for special mention in various reports, as for example by The Inquisitr (see link)
Some of the players in this ‘star-studded’ line-up reportedly also double up as models in addition to adroitly wielding their magic wands on the blue artificial turf.
The development has kicked off a furious debate on the internet, inviting reaction and counter-reaction, more so as the London Olympics have brought to the fore “a whole slew of discussions about gender, sexism and sexualization” considering the number of ‘women’s issues that have cropped up here. Saudi Arabia’s two female athletes, competing for the first time at the Olympics, were dubbed as ‘prostitutes” by an enraged male while Japan’s women’s football team were treated as second class citizens when they were made to fly economy even as their celebrated male counterparts flew business class to the British capital.
One blogger has pointed out that the Netherlands’ women’s field hockey team has been “objectified” and “their athletic abilities overshadowed by discussion of their body parts” while decrying a rant on Barstool Sports, New York, which disparaged the “field hockey minxes” who were needlessly hogging all the attention.
Wonder whether the orange clad Netherlands team members coached by Max Caldas are lapping up these unexpected attention and accolades or whether they are fuming but would prefer to let their sticks do the talking.
An unintended offshoot to this development is that the women’s field hockey competition may get an unexpected boost of television viewership to see what the fuss is all about, even from those countries where the game is not a popular attraction. Much needed oxygen though for a sport that the International Olympic Committee was considering flicking out of the London Olympics some time back. The game however, survived a vote of confidence at the 117th IOC session in Singapore seven years ago and baseball and softball got the axe instead.