Marketing Curling: "do ya think I'm sexy ..."

And the debate begins again ... Can women's sports only earn mainstream attention by trumpeting their sexuality? In the past, Canadian women's rugby, water polo and cross-country ski teams have launched tasteful calendars with a selection of nude and semi-nude poses. This month, it's the turn of a group of international women curlers.

Now, Dordi Nordby aside, women curlers are not as "handsome" or "rugged" or "down-to-earth" as the men's rinks. Take Ed Werenich up there. Or Randy Ferbey.

A market likely exists for a calendar like this - among both male and female curling fans. But is there any positive impact on public perception of the sport?* The women's competitions don't seem to draw as much attention as the men's. Will an increased emphasis on sexuality draw more bums to the rinks and viewers to the tube?

    ""I think the women are going to have to curl naked in order to get people out there," [world champion skip Colleen Jones] said [in April 2004]. "I'm not kidding. You're going to have to hope for an Anna Kournikova to come along to really jazz it up."(Globe and Mail)

That may not be enough. Even Brandi Chastain's heartfelt celebration of the US victory in the 1999 World Cup arguably only produced a bump in mainstream media coverage of women's soccer - even though it remains an extremely popular sport for younger women.

*Yeah, yeah. Is it really a sport if you can win while smoking and drinking a beer?