Golf star Paige Spiranac, a former professional player, has come out swinging in defense of college gymnast Olivia “Livvy” Dunne in the face of criticism she’s facing for capitalizing on her good looks.
The drama began to unfold Tuesday when The New York Times ran a hit piece about “female college athletes” who “are making millions thanks to their large social media followings.”
The hit piece was so controversial that even Taylor Lorenz, who herself is no stranger to controversy, complained about it:
It’s important to talk abt how women are objectified and racial pay disparities, but imo this piece doesn’t give @livvydunne, a phenomenal athlete and excellent content creator, nearly enough credit and it’s really condescending about her https://t.co/96e0Ysoo9B
— SUBSCRIBE TO MY SUBSTACK (@TaylorLorenz) November 10, 2022
The piece specifically zeroed in on Dunne.
It noted that in the wake of college athletes now being allowed to collect compensation and accrue endorsements, women like Dunne have been raking in the cash.
“Dunne, a petite blonde with a bright smile and a gymnast’s toned physique, earns a staggering amount by posting to her eight-million strong internet following on Instagram and TikTok, platforms on which she intersperses sponsored content modeling American Eagle Outfitters jeans and Vuori activewear alongside videos of her lip syncing popular songs or performing trending dances,” the piece reads.
“To Dunne, and many other athletes of her generation, being candid and flirty and showing off their bodies in ways that emphasize traditional notions of female beauty on social media are all empowering,” it continues.
The problem, apparently, is that this is bad — or “regressive.” As evidence of this, the Times cited the words of Stanford University basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, 69.
Tara VanDerveer gave her thoughts on NIL endorsements, claiming they focus on beauty rather than athletic performance. pic.twitter.com/Ldg4AQUkvx
— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) November 9, 2022
“Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, one of the most successful coaches in women’s college basketball, sees the part of the N.I.L. revolution that focuses on beauty as regressive for female athletes. VanDerveer started coaching in 1978, a virtual eon before the popularization of the internet and social media, but she said the technology was upholding old sexist notions,” the piece reads.
N.I.L. is short for name, image, likeness, and it references the new trend of college athletes being allowed to build a brand around themselves.
Speaking with the Times, coach VanDerveer said the following: “I guess sometimes we have this swinging pendulum, where we maybe take two steps forward, and then we take a step back. We’re fighting for all the opportunities to compete, to play, to have resources, to have facilities, to have coaches, and all the things that go with Olympic-caliber athletics. This is a step back.”
Spiranac did not care for this remark.
“I’m so sick of women belittling accomplishments of other women because it’s done differently than they would. @livvydunne is getting hate for making 2 million a year. She’s built a successful business (at 20) all while being a student-athlete. That’s badass,” she tweeted Friday.
I’m so sick of women belittling accomplishments of other women because it’s done differently than they would. @livvydunne is getting hate for making 2 million a year. She’s built a successful business (at 20) all while being a student-athlete. That’s badass.
— Paige Spiranac (@PaigeSpiranac) November 11, 2022
Spiranac’s anger over Dunne’s treatment reportedly stems from her own experience dealing with this sort of criticism.
“Spiranac has dealt with criticism of her own social media presence and appearance in the past,” the Daily Mail notes.
“She has amassed an Instagram following of 3.7 million people and counting by posting content of herself playing America’s greatest golf courses in daring outfits. She previously said she felt traumatized after a ‘Karen’ verbally insulted her over her outfit while she was on the course,” according to the British outlet.
As for Dunne herself, she doesn’t appear to be stressing over the criticism.
“Seven figures. That is something I’m proud of. Especially since I’m a woman in college sports. There are no professional leagues for most women’s sports after college,” she defiantly said to the Times.
All this comes only months after National Collegiate Athletic Association lifted its rules preventing college athletes from collecting compensation and endorsements.
“On Wednesday, the NCAA announced an interim policy that allows student athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image and likeness, often referred to as NIL. The new policy goes into effect Thursday, July 1,” CNBC reported over the summer.
“Laws in states such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas that allow NCAA athletes to monetize their NIL will take effect this year. However, without a federal law, the new NCAA guidance allows students to engage in NIL activities so long as they are ‘consistent with the law of the state where the school is located’ and allows students in states without NIL laws to participate without breaking NCAA rules,” the outlet’s report continued.
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