Today, 9.30 a.m.:
Viv: blogging at a feverish pace, are we?
Me: expect another lightning-fast blog today! it's my mum's birthday.
Viv: happy birthday to her! please do blog. also try not to mention the word football in a blog about your mom's birthday.
Me: ... but it's fabio cannavaro's birthday too!
Viv: * gives up *
Me: i like both of them so very much, after all. especially my mum. and canna. in very different ways.
Seriously, even my mum would appreciate getting pictures of Cannavaro in her email. She doesn't follow footer and may not know why it makes one feel glad that the team one supports has Cannavaro standing around its goal, being ice-cool, reading the game smartly, bringing an almost vicious streak of efficiency to the game. She doesn't really care about the way he makes one-eighty degree switches from 'this is my Batman face' during penalties to licking the World Cup joyously. She probably did not meet one of her closest friends in the course of a conversation about him back during the 2002 World Cup, when one was vaguely hoping for Italy to win although one was shielding one's heart from sport and sportsmen at the time (and what a good thing that turned out to be). But my mum likes a beautiful man as much as the next person.
The very first time I understood what the word 'pulchritude' meant was when reading an old issue of Sportstar. It was used in relation with the beautiful, doomed Gabriela Sabatini - who made the sort of story that makes some people very happy, and other people very disgusted with the way the purveyors and customers of popular media function. I mean, everyone knows sportswomen are subject to a different kind of scrutiny from menfolk; hence the ridiculous short skirts on tennis courts when male players are running around in baggy shorts, hence Anna Kournikova even considered as competition to, in their heyday, Martina Hingis; hence Sepp Blatter suggesting that women footballers need to wear sexy clothes to be noticed.
Do the same standards hold true for sportsmen's excursions into the field of glamour and high fashion? Ha. To believe so is to indulge in a moderately high degree of self-kidding. Viv and I were talking about this after he saw the cover of Cosmopolitan Italy featuring sculpted-to-the-satisfaction-of-the-Roman-Empire Canna*, who posed for it wearing nothing but a football: we agreed that having a nude sportsman pose on the cover was different from Cosmo's standard-issue female supermodel covers. He isn't required to display his glutes o' granite for a living, or for anything, really, other than the attention (How understandable! When does the captain of an international football team and arguably the world's best defender ever get enough attention?). Is it's very purposelessness ennobling? Does it complicate his position with his team or his sponsors or his fans? Does it make me feel like an accomplice in exploitation when I look at one of his legion of topless pictures (I'm positive Cannavaro's the ONLY footballer for whom a Google Image search will throw up a nude photograph among the first ten results)?
No. No. And yes, slightly - but on the whole, no.
* I wish I could find someplace the image is hosted on the 'net, so that I could offer a link; I could load it directly on to this post, but for some odd reason, covering my blog with pictures of naked men doesn't seem like the marvellous idea it no doubt is in a parallel universe. In the meanwhile, have this one.
Happy birthday, mum!
eta: Mum's birthday was good, Canna's sucked spectacularly. Madrid's slipped up to Lyon. To my chagrin, Ten Sports insisted on broadcasting Man U/Celtic, which, from what I saw of it - around Saha's second goal - was shabby. Milan, thankfully, did not do anything to upset the pecking order. It's nice that Pippo Inzaghi's manifestation of his alternate persona as goal-machine coincides with their season.
And there are further posts in this vein: Aishwarya objectifies Rafael Nadal, and Szerelem pays tribute to Zinedine Zidane.