Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Sports Guy Censored" Revisited

This is all that remains of Stokke-mania.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a little ditty about the Sports Guy's blog getting cut by a paragraph after he listed a link to high school pole vaulter Allison Stokke on his site (as well as a disclaimer telling people that they should not click on the link if they were above a certain age. He may as well have told people their lives depended on selecting the link.). It was the most viewed item I've ever posted, narrowly beating the Mel Kiper bit and All-Mediocre team. It wasn't necessarily a knock on Simmons or ESPN, but I did find it ironic that ESPN would kill this item while previously benefitting from pictures of 17 year-old Anna Kournikova in spandex on their site. I know there's a difference between Kournikova and Stokke in that when you are a professional athlete you are purposely putting yourself in the public sphere and as a public personality you lose some privacy rights as a matter of law, but I just found the decision to be a bit hypocritical and bizarre. I'll also concede that I felt a little funny writing about a high schooler in this space which is why I provided a link as opposed to posting the actual picture on my site (though the pic would have received far more hits). I'm not saying I'm holier than thou or anything, it just seemed sketchy enough that it was a line I didn't want to cross. So I guess I can empathize with's plight. Well, after this week's Washington Post article on Stokke-mania, maybe we were both right to err on the side of caution.

If you didn't read the article in the Post, it's worth a read. Basically, the article is an account of the meteoric rise to internet stardom of Allison Stokke and how she and her family are completely freaked out by it. In the article, With Leather's (a fantastic site that should be a part of everyone's rotation) creator Matt Ufford is interviewed and is given credit with "breaking the story" on Stokke. The article doesn't necessarily take Ufford to task for posting Stokke's pic, but given that the entire article is a sympathetic portrayal of an innocent high school senior who never asked for all of this attention, I'm pretty sure the inclusion of Ufford and his site wasn't for the purpose of creating a groundswell of support for his efforts. It's a tough situation because Ufford didn't do anything wrong by posting the pics but at the same time the Stokke family should rightly be a little freaked out that every track meet they go to from here on out will have a marked increase of overweight, sweaty 40 year-old dudes with telephoto lenses in the stands. I'm not sure anyone crossed the line with this and I guess I'm not really taking a stand on it, more than anything I can see now why ESPN chose to rip the paragraph out of the Sports Guy's blog. It's one thing for a site whose name is a reference to a Chris Berman pickup line to post a pic like that, it's a whole 'nother ballgame when Mickey Mouse is supporting salivating over high schooler.

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