A Howl! for Calling the Olympian a Kitten.

So it turns out that Tanith Belbin is hot. I mean, smoking hot, so hot the ice she dances on turns to soup every time she lands an axel.  Her sex appeal is so sweltering, she appeared on a cover of “Men’s Health” wearing only a tiny pair of black shorts, seductively wielding a pair of headphones.

Oh, to have been those headphones…She’s so hot, a few years back, ESPN.com named her the world’s hottest athlete. And you know that the Worldwide Leader doesn’t just throw out such titles willy-nilly.

But wait – she’s a very talented ice-dancer, and along with her partner, Ben Agosto, has a legitimate shot to win a gold medal in Vancouver. Their story is a compelling one, full of personal perseverance and family sacrifice. They worked their tails off, battling injuries and refining their technique.

And though you may not pick up on that, you’ll definitely pick up on the fact that Belbin is hot. Soooo hot. You’ll probably enjoy the post-skate interviews she gives as much as you will her performance.  She’ll likely be witty and clever and…did I mention that she’s smoking hot?

Well, Marcus Hayes certainly did, going so far as to mention by the end his article in last Wednesday’s Daily News that she is even hotter in person. He also described her as the “ kitten half of America’s best ice-dancing couple in history.”

Wait, kitten?

Really?

But the article seemed intent on reminding its drooling readers that focusing on her beauty would be missing the point.  She is a talented athlete, the piece points out. She has sacrificed and endured, we are told.

Belbin says in the article that it doesn’t bother her, all the attention given to her physique. If it brings the sport attention, she’s all for it. And she probably means that. It certainly freed Hayes to hammer home the sex angle, which he did quite liberally.

It appears Hayes was trying to build contrast, to play off of her image as the hot athlete while telling the story of the dedicated athlete. And though both sides of that story are given equal time, they aren’t given equal value. The narrative is constantly broken by exclamations of sex appeal. Thus, an old-boys-club theme so familiar in coverage of women’s sports rises to the surface – yeah, she’s talented, but we all know the real reason we care about her is because she’s hot.

And that’s a shame, because what should have been an informative piece about an intriguing athlete ultimately read like a nuanced pick-up line.  So here’s a catcall for you, Mr. Hayes:

HOWL!

– Timothy Rapp

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