Recently on Bleacher Report, I came across an article written by Kimberly Nash titled "Female Athletes: Unfortunately, Sex Appeal Is part of Overall Success."
Unfortunately, I do not agree with her title, but I do agree with her on certain points she made. The question is, are these athletes she examines actually successful at the professional level?
The first female athlete that was used was Anna Kournikova. Yes, Kournikova was more popular than some of the other top female tennis players before she retired and was labeled "hot," but was Kournikova actually successful as a tennis player?
Kournikova did go 209-129 in her matches, had two International Tennis Federation titles as a singles player, and yet her highest ranking as a tennis player was No. 8.
Kournikova did better in doubles and actually peaked at No. 1. She went 200-71 with 16 titles as a doubles player. So, her overall success came when she was playing with a partner, and not as a singles player.
I wouldn't say that Kournikova was more successful than the other tennis players mentioned in the article—Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis. Kournikova's popularity was much higher, but it doesn't mean she was more successful than Hingis or Davenport.
Hingis, for her career, has gone 548-133 as a single, including 43 titles and two ITF titles, and she managed to make it to the No.1 spot. For doubles, Hingis went 286-54, had 37 titles, and one ITF title. The numbers speak for themselves on who was more successful.
Lindsay Davenport's record as a singles player is currently at 753-194, and she has 55 career titles. Again, just like Hingis, Davenport earned a No. 1 ranking. For doubles, Davenport went 382-115, including 37 titles and a No. 1 ranking, too.
The numbers of Hingis and Davenport speak for themselves in regards to overall career success.
To me, it's the confusion of popularity with actual success. Danica Patrick is used in Target commercials, and Patrick has had pictures of her draped over a car while she's in leather. Yet, Patrick has only won one racing event in her three year career.
Even though I'm not a huge fan of racing, Patrick has shown her courage and has shown that she's not going to back down from anyone, including getting into feuds with rival racers. One of Patrick's most famous feuds came against fellow racer Dan Wheldon.
I also love the fact that the next point in Nash's article was in regards to what she calls "the female soccer player who took off her shirt." Brandi Chastain, in a moment of glee after making the game winning penalty kick, took off her shirt and waived it around in a moment that was basically what sports are all about; unbridled emotion.
So, what was the big deal of Chastain taking off her shirt? The answer is absolutely nothing. There are women all the time either out jogging or at the gym in a sports bra, and no one makes a huge deal about that. Yet, the incident made Chastain the talk at the time, when in reality it wasn't a huge deal, and it was the US Women's Soccer team's success that was more important than Chastain's moment of pure joy.
Kobe Bryant is then mentioned, and she makes the point that she's can't say that she's ever seen a shirtless picture of Kobe Bryant or in a swimsuit, or as she states, "minus his dignity."
I'm sorry, but Bryant has already shown plenty of things, including the fact he has no dignity. He did something far worse than pose in a magazine with his shirt off. He cheated on his wife.
Speaking of shirtless, Gilbert Arenas has a shirtless magazine cover on "Slam". There are countless times when a player leaves the court after being ejected from the game and has thrown their jersey top into the crowd.
Jennie Finch was described as the "hot one". Interesting, because Finch is an amazing talent who has had tremendous success wherever she's been. Yes, she is absolutely gorgeous but her popularity may be high because she's the "hot one", but other athletes in softball respect her for her success and her abilities on the softball field.
She also has a challenge that gets some major league players to try to hit off of her, and from what I've seen, the major leaguers haven't been very successful. In turn, the major league players have tremendous respect for Finch and her abilities, and can understand why she's had so much success as a softball player.
In the example of an athlete like Jennie Finch, it wouldn't matter what she looks like, she'd still have her success. The sex appeal of Finch is an after effect of her success, not the other way around. Just because she's beautiful doesn't mean she can be where she is because she's the "hot one"—she had to work hard for her success.
Some of the best women professional athletes do not have much of a sex appeal as others. There's Venus and Serena Williams, Lisa Leslie, Dotty Peppers, and plenty more who do not have the sex appeal, but rather they all are respected for their athletic abilities and the success they have created for themselves.
If sex appeal ran sports, then Kevin Youkilis and Joakim Noah would be out of luck, wouldn't they? Luckily for them, looks aren't what got them into their respective leagues.
I'm not naive enough to believe that success comes from sex appeal. Sex appeal is a side product of beauty, and it's that person's choice if they want to flaunt it and let it run their career like Kournikova. For actual success as an athlete, it has nothing to do with their looks, but everything to do with how well they work and use their talent.