Ring card girls: Pressure mounts on boxing tradition as PDC Darts drop and F1 debate use of models
Boxing’s long-standing ring card girls could be set to become a thing of the past after PDC Darts decided to drop their own versions of the tradition to hire models for their high-profile events.
The PDC shocked all last week by dropping the ‘walk-on girls’ who accompanied players to the oche, beauties who were often the talk of the entrances for the likes of Phil Taylor, Michael Van Gerwen and Ray Van Barneveld.
Upon hearing the news the girls would no longer be employed by the PDC moving forward, ex-world champion Barneveld even signed a petition and lent his support to an outcry by fans to bring back the models.
— Raymond v Barneveld (@Raybar180) January 26, 2018
Barry Hearn’s Professional Darts Corporation are not the only ones to act regarding what is seen as a derogatory job for women by those opposed as Formula One are currently reviewing their own endorsing of lycra-clad ‘grid girls’ at the starting points of races.
F1 have been urged to drop an ‘outdated’ attraction for their male fans, with Chase Carey – F1’s chief executive officer, telling the BBC he wants to ‘get as many points of views as possible’ in order to ‘make a decision right for the future of the sport’.
“Is it something from the past or is it something distinct that should be part of the future?” Casey pointed out in a BBC interview.
“I don’t think it will be a personal decision for me. I may have a point of view but, when you have a sport, you are dealing with teams and a large eco-system and a large fanbase that is very passionate. There is never going to be a consensus, but a set of views.”
Ross Brawn, a high-end F1 boss, told Marketing Week they are considering giving the grid girls more of a role, rather than dismissing them altogether.
“We’re 100 percent committed to looking into grid girls and making them a more relevant part of the competition rather than just holding a board and standing next to a car,” he said.
“We haven’t quite cracked what this will look like, but we’ve recognized we need to become more progressive there.”
Whatever happens moving forward, boxing is certain to come under pressure to at least review what part the girls play at a top event, with many of the bigger promoters moving to employ a more conservative approach.
Years ago, costumes for ring girls would be a lot more risqué, whilst the likes of Matchroom Boxing, the World Boxing Super Series and Frank Warren have been applauded for the outfit styles adopted in more recent times by their models.
Sara Beverley Jones, a regular on the Matchroom and WBSS circuit, has campaigned passionately to ensure the girls aren’t put out of work, especially as a lot of those employed are real boxing fans themselves.
If I could make a difference, it would be investing in those issues that upset me deeply, such as disabilities in children, Animal abuse, homelessness. I wouldn’t waste my day campaigning to put promo models out of work!! That’s exactly where we are going wrong in this world!
— Sara Beverley Jones (@SaraBeverley) January 28, 2018
Also, as the models perform a duty to let the fans know which round is coming up, it is thought boxing could get a reprieve. On the other hand, boxing may be encouraged to employ men as well as women to carry out the regular task and not be viewed in a sexist way.
Further scrutiny may still follow, though, as more and more sports listen to those campaigning for change.
The Women’s Sports Trust made a delighted comment on the matter via social media saying they; ‘applaud the Professional Darts Corporation moving with the times and deciding to no longer use walk-on-girls. Motor Racing, Boxing and Cycling….your move,’ in response to the PDC’s bold decision.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay