August 23, 2013

Why I scorn the “FSO girls”

I have been an outspoken critic of the title “Fox Sports Ohio Girls” since they were introduced last year.

The FSO Women promoting seat belt wraps

The seat belt wrap commercial earlier this year was the most substantial thing the FSO Women have been asked to contribute to the Reds-verse. And it wasn’t bad. Not terrible, anyway.

I want to be clear, because it’s an important distinction that I have been a critic of the title “FSO Girls” and not the women who play the girls on t.v. These ladies are likely trying to launch a career in acting or modeling, and a gig is a gig. There’s no room for pride in show business.

On the other hand, there’s LOADS of room for pride in blogging, with plenty to spare to accommodate all your righteous indignation, so let’s go.

It’s not just that the network insists on calling grown-ass women “girls,” but even that would be enough. It’s demeaning. Women may call other women “girls,” as in, “I’m doing a fat flush with the girls at the office” or “feed the kids dinner; I’m heading to Chili’s with the girls to drink Sparkling Pomegranate Margaritas and flirt with the college-dropout bartender till I vomit at 10:15.” But just because members of a group call the other members of their group by a certain term does not mean it’s OK for outsiders to do the same. Any Chris Rock stand up routine will teach you that much.

And it’s not just that their only purpose appears to be to add a rack to the game-watching experience. To FOX Sports’ credit, at least these women aren’t actually wearing bikinis, though in some ways it might be better if they were. At least that would be an honest expression of what they’re there for. I get the feeling that if this weren’t the Midwest and if baseball weren’t such a “wholesome” sport, FOX would have the FSO Women in their skivvies in a minute. (Yes, I just did a Google image search of “FOX Sports girls” and other regions do appear to have their women in bikinis.)

And it’s not just that one of the FSO Women disappeared without fanfare (are the reasons you’re thinking of as looks-based as mine?) and now FOX wants fans to vote on the next one to replace her. Since the FSO Women aren’t given any tasks of any substance on which basis you could compare their skills, I guess you’re just voting based on which one you think is hottest. It’s all the icky feelings of watching the Miss America Pageant without the interview questions about geography.

It’s not any one of those things, but it is all of them. And more. It’s the vapid commercial break spots. It’s the Twitter account. It’s the “win a chance to have dinner with, and drool all over, the FSO girls.”

I’m psyched to see any women in a baseball broadcast. But is it really too much to ask that the women not only be included but also allowed to be intelligent professionals at the same time? Because these women have at least as much to add to the game-watching experience as Jim Day does. You don’t have to get rid of the t-shirts from the Alyssa Milano collection, just call them something that doesn’t imply they’re children and let them do more than pimp seat belt wraps. At least give us a little dignity about the whole thing. Maybe even a little pride.

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