On Saturday, the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League (a Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm team at the advanced rookie ball level) came up with a “Hourglass Appreciation Night” that would feature 18 different female color commentators selected for their “hourglass shape.” They wrote “Be there a better way to remind the world that baseball needs no clock than to feature 18 hourglass-shaped color commentators? That’s right! Stars Talent Studio of Salt Lake City will provide a different stunner each half-inning. And the Raptors will video-stream the broadcast booth – well, at least the better-looking half of it!”
That promotion didn’t get a ton of attention until Monday, when a bunch of outlets wrote it up (including NBC’s Hardball Talk, Sports Illustrated, and The Salt Lake Tribune), and the blowback was swift. The team has since removed the promotion from their website, but you can find a cached version here. Here are some lowlights:
Since August is the eighth month of the calendar year, and an 8 looks tantalizingly similar to an hourglass, be there a better way to remind the world that baseball needs no clock than to feature 18 hourglass-shaped color commentators?
That’s right! Stars Talent Studio of Salt Lake City will provide a different stunner each half-inning. And the Raptors will video-stream the broadcast booth – well, at least the better-looking half of it!
Fans will have the opportunity to pose for pictures with the lovely ladies as we showcase seriously splendid visual appeal: Utah’s legendary mountains, Dodgers and Reds farmhands – and gorgeous women whose curves rival those of any stud pitching prospect!
And just a smidgen of the reaction:
— Jessica Quiroli (@heelsonthefield) June 6, 2017
— megan brown (@thatgirlondeck) June 6, 2017
@ogdenraptors Women are more than just objects to stare at, drool over & take pictures with. You should be ashamed & embarrassed.
— Stacey Gotsulias (@StaceGots) June 6, 2017
21 years ago I worked for several sexist, stupid people running a minor league team. Best of luck to you in the next few days, Ogden Raptors
— Alyson Footer (@alysonfooter) June 6, 2017
— katie dzwierzynski (@kdzwierzynski) June 6, 2017
.@ogdenraptors y'all are bad and should feel bad, sincerely, a woman who covers minor league baseball
— Kate Morrison (@unlikelyfanatic) June 6, 2017
Seriously @ogdenraptors wtf is wrong with you. This comes off like a poorly written parody of sexism. Fire your entire promotions department
— ITGWDS (@guywhododgers) June 6, 2017
— Brodie Brazil (@BrodieNBCS) June 6, 2017
If it's June, it must be the Ogden Raptors embarrassing themselves in the 21st century? https://t.co/eptQDVkdEU
— Jesse Spector ? (@jessespector) June 6, 2017
I wrote a short bit about why the Ogden Raptors' promotion is bad: https://t.co/Q5U0Uhinaa
— Mary Craig (@marymcraig) June 6, 2017
That piece from Craig, at Beyond The Box Score, is worth a read on why this is both so problematic and part of a larger problem. It’s titled “There is no rest for sexism in baseball”. Here’s a key part of her piece:
It should take no genius to figure out the flaws in this promotion, because there are plenty, but nobody did. Again. And we are now faced with the same tired issue of how women fit into baseball. For many executives, we are uninterested bystanders who might open up our wallets to purchase a pink shirt or hat with which to impress our significant others. For others, we are objects that can be used to draw men to games. Rarely are we legitimate fans on the same level as men. And that’s a huge problem for professional baseball.
Absolutely, and that’s why we keep seeing promotions along these lines pop up. Minor league baseball is famed for trying to sell itself in odd ways, but the executives who come up with these kinds of promotions that are based entirely around objectifying women don’t realize that they’re doing more harm than good to their team by doing so. This one’s also bad for promoting the idea that there’s only one type of beauty, and that only an hourglass figure is desirable. And it implies that women can only call baseball if they’re conventionally attractive, and that women in the broadcast booth are fair game for ogling.
And this is far from unique to Ogden. It’s a problem that keeps showing up across the sports world, usually in pure terms like this in the minors, but there’s been lots of sexism in marketing at the MLB level too, and in other sports. Executives need to realize that they should be marketing to female fans as well as male ones, and that ideas like this one in particular are going to hurt their brands more than help them. Maybe the next time someone comes up with an idea like this, they’ll think twice before releasing it to the world. Then they won’t have to recant later.