Sorry to complicate this issue even further, but there are issues of
race as well as gender and class involved in figure skating coverage.
Even before the attack, sports agents were saying a gold medal would
be worth upwards of $25 million to Kerrigan. Some of you may remember
that Kristi Yamaguchi won a gold for the U.S. in 1992 and while she
has done very well for herself financially she has received very few
big-money, high profile endorsements.
She did appear on a Special-K box (a diet cereal happy to associate
with Yamaguchi's slender figure). And she does an ad for Dura-Soft
Color Contact lenses that goes something like this: "After I one the
gold, people kept trying to get me to change" followed by a montage of
Kristi trying everything from swimsuit modeling to talk-show hosting.
"When I want to change, I go blue or green" - i.e. changing her eye
color with DuraSoft contacts, to colors that might make her look
Also, during promos for the Ladies' event, CBS featured images of
Kerrigan, Harding, Baiul and Katarina Witt, ignoring two nonwhite
competitors with outstanding chances to medal, Chen Lu of china who
did win the bronze and Surya Bonaly of France who beat Baiul in the
European champions. I felt all during the '92 games that Kerrigan was
the "Great White Hope" despite the fact that Yamaguchi clearly had a
better chance of winning.
For more information, Jeff Klein is publishing an article on class
issues in figure skating in tomorrow's Village Voice (included also is
a sidebar on the narrative of family in figure skating from my March
-- Abigail Feder