Rogers Cup: “Come For the Ladies, Stay for the Legends”

UPDATE: Awesome. Tennis Canada has contacted me with information that Rogers Cup has changed the advertisement to have the slogan, “Making History, Re-Living History,” and has issued a public apology, saying, “We apologize if the original campaign slogan was perceived to be sexist or at all derogatory towards the women of Rogers Cup. It was never our intent but hopefully the adjustments we have made — all of which should hit the market next week — address the concerns voiced.”

First, Wimbledon gives away free tickets to people who vote on the “best-looking player.” Now Tennis Canada, which organizes the annual Rogers Cup, offers us this gem:

SlutWalk Toronto promptly responded to the ad, demanding a public apology and that the ads be taken down. Heather Jarvis told NOW Magazine, “It’s a poster that’s saying, ‘Come check out the hot ladies and stay for the men, because those are the real athletes.’”

In response, Tennis Canada, who created the ad, says they’re taking the criticism “very seriously,” they’re not removing the ads or issuing an apology because the “legends” they’re referring to are legends because they’re retired and not because they’re men.

Yeah, but why are none of the “legends” women? To say this ad (and perhaps the tournament) wasn’t explicitly gendered and in a very distinct way, in a way that says that the hot tennis girls are fun to watch but the real show are the male pros, is not taking this criticism seriously at all — in fact, it’s straight up denying it.

Image via.

Tennis Canada’s updated letter in response:

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11 Comments

  1. Posted July 13, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    send Tennis Canada a nice little note at info@tenniscanada.com

  2. Posted July 13, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    The Rogers cup in Toronto (which I’ve been too, excellent event) rotates every year between men and women.

    This year the main event is women with the legends men. Next year it will be the reverse (as it was last year).

  3. Posted July 13, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I find your interpretation strange… it says “come for the ladies, stay for the legends”. To me that says the ladies are the main event but you should also stay and watch the legends. I read it the opposite that you do.

    And given that (based prize funds, scheduling, past events) the womens event is a MUCH LARGER scale (and takes place on a weekend, whereas legends is on weekdays), it’s pretty obvious that the ladies event is the main event.

    BTW – I received this ad in the mail as part of a package to get me to buy tickets, and again, the tickets for the women’s event are more then for the males and they also explicitely state that the tickets to the women’s event are selling fast so get yours now. They don’t say that about the legends event.

    • Posted July 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      I get Vanessa’s interpretation when reading the words, but the visual of the poster gives the opposite effect. The women dominate the space, and are shown as fierce athletes kicking ass. The legends look like friendly retirees in the usual retiree polo-shirt get-up, happy to reminisce about the old glory days and enjoying some reflected glory from the current athletes.

  4. Posted July 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    When I first read this I was outraged, even as a guy and an avid tennis fan!

    Yet, when it says “come for the ladies, stay for the legends,” and if it’s purely a gender difference (which it seems to be) someone could equally cry foul that you don’t come for the legends! ‘Why not come for the legends (men)? Are they not entertaining enough? Why come for the women but not the men?’ I think it’s much ado about nothing.

    As for the apparent gender discrimination in the “legends” event, it’s the unfortunate reality that men’s sports are often more popular than women’s. Sure, there are some people (myself included) that would like to watch Martina Navratilova battle it out with Chris Evert again, but on the whole, this would be less popular than watching Agassi and Sampras. Professional sports is an entertainment business, and if a women’s legends event doesn’t sell, it isn’t put on. Women can complain about unequal opportunities in professional sports, but if they truly mean it then they need to get out and support these things. Of course, it’s not just a “support your own gender” mentality, because there’s a lot of crossover. But people generally like to watch and root for athletes like themselves/they can relate to–this being partially gender based–and until women support professional sports as much as men, things like a women’s legends tennis event will be less popular than a men’s one.

  5. Posted July 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Here’s an interesting comment from our Facebook page: “wow. men are legendary. women just make you come. yeah, i did notice the double entendre, intended or not. totally effed up.”

  6. Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    its a great point you raise. tennis has plenty of female legends to choose from and could have even put in some exhibition matches with Hingis/Kournikova. I’m waiting to see a women’s legends match during the Cincinnati Master’s semi-finals …

    • Posted July 14, 2011 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      I think you might have missed the earlier comment, by Honeybee, which said that the Rogers cup rotates from year to year. This year is current female players and male legends, last year was current male players and female legends. With this being the case, the only thing the Rogers Cup did wrong was have a tasteless advertising campaign, which, they have changed. Now, hopefully, they have learned something, and won’t make similarly poor choices in their future advertising campaigns.

  7. Posted July 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    We are interpreting this flyer as saying, in essence, “Show up for the women, but stay for the [ostensibly better] male players.” This interpretation is incorrect, since the two events being advertised are A. a tournament featuring top current women and B. a 4-person, round-robin tournament featuring recently-retired men (the “Legends”). If anything, I tend to interpret this as framing the women, and not the men, as the main event. This interpretation makes more sense, anyway, since there are only a few men featured, essentially playing an exhibition game that harkens back to the glory days of men’s tennis, circa the 90s.

  8. Posted July 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    I wrote an email to info@tenniscanada.com, and received a reply which included a statement from the CEO dated today, as well as their amended print ad.

    I’ll quote some of it here:

    “While maintaining the creative integrity of the Rogers Cup advertising, we have also decided to use a new tag line for our print and outdoor campaign: “Making History. Re-living History.” This reinforces that the stars of today’s game will make history at the Rogers Cup and the legends of the past will allow the fans to re-live history.”

    “We apologize if the original combined campaign slogan was perceived to be sexist or at all derogatory to the women of Rogers Cup. It was never our intent but hopefully the adjustments we have made – all of which should hit the market next week – address the concerns voiced.”

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