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The Eh Game

Maybe it’s time to put wrap on nude calendars and find another way for athletes to raise money

Jim Morris
Eh Game

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The Canadian women's national rugby team is looking to raise awareness for their sport and shoot down stereoty …

It may be a politically incorrect thing to say but a lot of men like looking at attractive women. If those women happen to be naked, so much the better.

Members of Canada's national women's rugby team have decided to help satisfy this pleasure by taking off their clothes for a calendar. According to a promotional release, the goal of the 16-month, 2013 calendar is "to build the profile of their sport (and) shatter stereotypes.'' Oh yes, and to raise money to help the women compete at the World Cup and 2016 Olympic qualifiers.

The idea of calendars featuring nude athletes isn't new. Women cross-country skiers, curlers and biathlon athletes have done it before. It might even be habit forming because this is the fourth time the rugby women have stripped. The photos are usually tastefully done with more left to the imagination than actually shown.

Just because an idea sells doesn't mean it's a good idea. Maybe it's time to move on and take the nude calendars off the wall. Can't the people involved in amateur sport in Canada think of a better way to raise money than to have somebody's daughter get naked?

The whole concept sends a shiver through Jane Roos, a former athlete who is founder and executive director of CAN Fund. Roos' group has raised over $14 million to help finance athletes and no one has taken their clothes off.

"It bothers me,'' Roos said about athletes exposing themselves to gain some exposure. "It think it's sad.

"The fact they are doing it to raise money, when we live in a country like Canada, really bothers me. I think corporate Canada and Canadians, we need to value excellence more.''

Barbara Mervin, a flanker on the rugby team, said the calendar is about more than sex.

"Yes, sex sells but we hope to have a stronger message about body types,'' Mervin said in a release. "We hope we can help young girls to know that you can be 170 pounds and be absolutely beautiful. We hope they can relate to someone's body and see beauty in that.

"A national team athlete has enormous quads and we consider them very beautiful. There is beauty in the athletic body, and that is what we have tried to capture with the images."

Roos agrees with Mervin but believes there's a better way to get the message across.

"Do I want our women to poise nude? Of course not,'' she said. "It's a solution they see as a solution.''

Past calendars have proven successful with some raising over $100,000.

"The hiccup with the calendars is you are going back to the same people,'' said Roos.

Prior to the Vancouver Olympics, CAN Fund convinced Sprott Asset Management and the Sprott Foundation to donate $100,000 for every gold medal Canada won. That raised $1.4 million.

Roos would like to see more funding from corporate Canada. She has an idea for NHL hockey players to adopt Canadian athletes. She thinks some sports organizations can do more to help themselves.

"It goes back to sports supporting sports,'' she said. "I see all these sporting organizations raising money for charities that are disease and disaster. I'm not saying that is wrong, but when your own teams are posing nude?

"To me it's desperate. It sounds like we have to poise nude to raise money to represent our country.''

Here's a thought to anyone considering spending the money to buy one of the rugby team's calendars. Why not just sent the team a cheque instead?

If more people did that, athletes could spend their time training, not getting photographed naked.

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