Female athletes should be judged on skill, not looks

We should all be celebrating Allison Stokke's quest for a state pole-vault championship. Instead, most folks are discussing how the Newport Harbor High School's star athlete has drawn unwanted attention on the Web for her looks.

On the Internet they're known as "lurkers." In the real world they've been called "chauvinist pigs," and what's happening to Stokke is a very public display of "locker-room talk."

Later this month, we'll celebrate 35 years since Title IX mandated more access to sports for high school and college female athletes. It's led to a very welcome proliferation of female athletes throughout the country.

Still, the athletes considered more physically attractive have to deal with a lot of unwanted attention. Their talent, or lack of it, doesn't seem to matter to some. Just ask Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova or Anna Kournikova, who never won a major singles title (but had success in doubles).

Stokke won a state championship as a freshman, suffered an injury as a sophomore that held her back that year and came in second last season. She's clearly one of the best in her sport, and we should celebrate her athletic feats.

Ignore the cyberspace sideshow. Allison Stokke is much more than a pretty face. She's a tremendous athlete, and we applaud her grace under pressure.

Allison, we're rooting for you, and we know you'll rise above this controversy just as easily as you clear the bar.

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