Tennis players and brands
Does anyone else feel slightly disturbed at the extent to which multinational corporations and their brands have taken over the sport? When I was at Wimbledon this year, it seemed like 99% of the players had that Nike swoosh on their outfits, and certainly most top players are sponsored by a big-name brand. There have been several threads recently about players using their status to be activists, most notably Martina Navratilova, and also Serena Williams' boycott of the Hilton Head tournament. Yet, despite the fact that multinational corporations are not only widespread abusers of workers' rights etc., but are also intent on manipulating (you could even say 'brainwashing') consumer desires (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, go away and read anything by Naomi Klein, George Monbiot or Noreena Hertz), very few - indeed, no - players have even gone anywhere near this subject. Quite clearly this is because they owe a lot to their sponsors, who have made them very rich and very famous people (and in some cases successful as well).
But. Last year I'm sure everyone noticed Ashley Harkleroad's outfit at the US Open, but did anyone notice how the dress was not her own choice? It's quite one thing for an individual - even an individual 16-yr-old girl - to want to portray herself as a sex object; it's quite another for a corporation to push a 16-year-old into that mould because they think it will bring THEM financial gain. And 'less marketable' players lose out: Nike initially refused to sponsor Yevgeny Kafelnikov because 'they didn't know what he stood for' (a completely ignorant thing to say, incidentally; since when has it been necessary for a complex individual to simplify themselves, to reduce themselves to an easily sellable faux-personality?).
The branding of sport is not only harmful to the sport itself - it disturbs me to see the sport I love taken over by corporations I hate - but also to its spectators, who are completely brainwashed by the corporations - 'hey, my favourite player wears Nike/Reebok/adidas, I'll buy that overpriced gear as well to be like them' - and, as illustrated above, some of its players. Well, look at Anna Kournikova as well.