Dating a footballer is presented as the pinnacle of achievement for some young women, which is not just disappointing, it’s downright sad.
Jesinta Campbell is appalled at some women’s desperate attempts to nab themselves a footballer boyfriend– and as someone who used to date an AFL player myself, so am I.
It’s “very, very disappointing” that some women degrade themselves by throwing themselves at sports stars, AFL star Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s fiancée, Jesinta Campbell, said in a recent interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly.
“I have seen things in clubs that would make mothers’ skin crawl” including women lifting up their skirts for men and placing the athlete’s hands over their bodies,” the former Miss Universe Australia told the magazine.
Well I hear you, Jesinta. Because I, too, once dated a footballer, and I saw close-up the way some women would approach athletes at nightclubs and put their hungry, manicured hands right down the athletes’ pants. The desperate, envious look a woman would occasionally get when I mentioned who was taking me for dinner.
The way some girls — yes, I say girls because many were not yet 18 — would actively research where sportsmen were likely to be after a game and make sure they were ‘coincidentally’ there too, propping up the bar in spiky heels that showed off rock-hard calf muscles.
As Jesinta said in the AWW interview, there’s a certain kind of Australian woman who “will do anything to have the glory of being with a footballer”. They’ll stop at almost nothing to have the boasting rights associated with bedding a sports star — and to briefly taste a little bit of star power when they post an end-of-the-night selfie on Instagram, their pouting face peering out from the crook of some rich, drunk athlete’s exceptional arm.
They crave the chance to meet their chosen athlete’s teammates — all those familiar faces! All those revered names that appear in the paper! — at an official function. To one day see their own professionally made-up face beaming from the pages of a gossip magazine. And maybe, just maybe, to ultimately become an official WAG, joining the likes of Jesinta Campbell or Rebecca Judd or Victoria Beckham among those esteemed ranks.
You might well assume I’m about to write these wannabe ‘footy chicks’ off as trashy, tarty or tacky.
But actually, I’m not interested in blaming or shaming them. Because what’s more interesting is the reason why these young women would want to prioritise nabbing a footballer over other pursuits.
And the reason is this: It’s because our society has decided that being an AFL player means being the ultimate man — one who is not only rich, but fit and strong in the way that ticks off every definition of masculinity since the Middle Ages.
Our society has decided that sports stars deserve to win Australian of the Year over and over again; that they should have salaries comparable to that of CEOs, and that they are sometime even above the law.
Related content: ‘Sports stars. Enough with the hero worship.’
It has decided that they will be heroes to every young Australian boy, and that their attributes are more valuable than that of a successful medical scientist, a selfless social worker, or a stay-at-home dad.
Now, this is not an anti-footballer post. Having shared meals, gifts and a bed with an AFL star myself for six months, I can attest that some are very lovely. My own footballer ex respectfully asked for my number at a coffee shop (at which point I had no idea of his job). He always texted after our date, believed in the importance of the female orgasm, and respected his mother.
But was he — and were his teammates — the most admirable human beings I’ve encountered? Were they the kind of guys I’d want my sons to emulate and my daughters to pin their life’s hopes on?
Hell, no. I’d rather my kids focus on getting a solid education, helping the disadvantaged, starting a brilliant new company, expressing themselves creatively or founding a happy, healthy family.
But as a society, we have an unjustified, unhealthy obsession with football players — and by association, we hero-worship the women who can hitch their wagon to that particular definition of “success”. It’s a theme we see over and over again, on shows like Footballers’ Wives that portray athletes’ partners as leading the “high life” — socialising, shopping, and generally being glamorous.
It’s reinforced by the media obsession with WAGs’ appearance, evident in the pervy, mawkish coverage of the Brownlow red carpet each year. It’s a message perpetuated by the fact that WAGs are afforded platforms on boards, panels and TV segments primarily by virtue of their connection to their chosen spots star; Ironically, I doubt we would be hearing from even Jesinta so regularly in the media if she wasn’t involved with Franklin.
Related content: “I was a WAG. And it sucked.”
Given the level of adulation enjoyed by sports stars and their partners, is it any wonder that these wannabe ‘footy chicks’ become enchanted with the fantasy of dating a sports star?
That — however problematically — they feel, that their attachment to a sports star might propel them above the dreary, limited range of life options otherwise available to them?
So right on, Jesinta. It is indeed “very, very disappointing” that women continue to launch themselves, with the enthusiasm of a child who’s just seen an ice cream truck, at any male human with a contract to play sport at a professional level.
But these young women have been served the message that they will be glamorous, cool, exciting, interesting, powerful, interesting or fulfilled — if they just give up on achieving success on their own merits and instead, focus on nabbing themselves a sports star.
That’s what’s really disappointing.
What do you think about ‘footy chicks’?