Poor Allison Stokke. All she wanted to do was be the best pole vaulter she could be — which, to my knowledge, is really tough but maybe not a sport as widely followed as, say, tennis or golf. Which is why all the hullabaloo over this picture to the left is a bit inexplicable.
Don’t know the story? Let me give you the short version.
Girl (Allison Stokke) tries pole vaulting on a lark and is a natural at it, and ends up rising to be No. 2 in the state. Two years ago, a photojournalist took this photo in all innocence. About two weeks ago (?) the blog WithLeather.com posted this photo as if it were new news with assorted “hubba hubba” comments. Other sports blogs, forums and fan clubs start searching for and posting pictures of the poor girl, sparking all sorts of pervy interest. The Washington Post, of all places, catches on and writes a huge story about the girl that sat on its homepage for an entire weekend. That’s the same weekend my coworker and sports online producer Ivan asked for my help in writing a headline over a video that is still our most viewed video, thanks to being dugg 419 times (and counting) and posted in various other places. That video ends up being her last media interview (if nothing has changed from last weekend). On Wednesday, after coming back to work and finding out all the fuss, I wrote a short blurb about the video to kind of re-present it and that story got huge page views since. Sheesh. There’s not enough that we can do to satiate the online community’s taste for more Stokke.
This whole situation presents all sorts of questions, though. First, let me say she’s very cute and has a smokin body. I admit that wholeheartedly. But the picture above is two years old, plus there is nothing overtly sexual about it. She’s a young, student athlete — of course she’s going to be hot!
At work, we have wondered why Stokke and her father just haven’t sued for harassment. I suppose that would be difficult, since you can’t sue everyone on the Internet (maybe they could consult with the RIAA…) But to be honest, I haven’t heard a thing about whether or not any real-life stalkers have actually come to bother her. So in that case, a harassment lawsuit wouldn’t work, since online lewd and rude language isn’t really harassment. Or is it?
The other thing is about the photo. It’s two years old, and taken at a time when she was still a minor. Does that make it child pornography? But it was taken by a photojournalist with sports news intentions. Does that mean every photojournalist now has to internally edit for potentially stalker-iffic photos?
I’m guessing that her father, a defense lawyer, has already gone through these questions.
But it seems that Stokke’s displeasure with all the unwanted attention has already made a difference. The Unofficial Allison Stokke Fan Page has voluntarily taken itself down, with a message of apology, so it doesn’t appear they’re going to let the domain name go. (Although, if I were her father, I might start buying all the Allison Stokke domain names just to be safe.) Also, WithLeather.com took down the original photo and posted a (sort of) clarification.
Good luck Allison, and have fun at Berkeley! And, uh, don’t give anymore national interviews.
Top photo is from a Photobucket account linked from the digg article, lower photo is from the Washington Post.