Most males and/or observers of the sporting blogosphere have come across a photograph of 18 year old pole vaulter Allison Stokke over the past several weeks, a development due in large part to the efforts of With Leather’s Matt Ufford. From the Washington Post’s Eli Salow.
The wave of attention has steamrolled Stokke and her family in Newport Beach, Calif. She is recognized — and stared at — in coffee shops. She locks her doors and tries not to leave the house alone. Her father, Allan Stokke, comes home from his job as a lawyer and searches the Internet. He reads message boards and tries to pick out potential stalkers.
“We’re keeping a watchful eye,” Allan Stokke said. “We have to be smart and deal with it the best we can. It’s not something that you can just make go away.”
On May 8, blogger Matt Ufford received Stokke’s picture in an e-mail from one of his readers, and he reacted to Stokke’s image on instinct. She was hot. She was 18. Readers of Ufford’s WithLeather.com — a sports blog heavy on comedy, opinion and sometimes sex — would love her.
The picture was taken by a track and field journalist and posted as part of a report on a California prep track Web site. The photo was hardly sexually explicit, which made Ufford’s decision to post it even easier. At 5 feet 7, Stokke has smooth, olive-colored skin and toned muscles. In the photo, her vaulting pole rests on her right shoulder. Her right hand appears to be adjusting the elastic band on her ponytail. Her spandex uniform — black shorts and a white tank top that are standard for a track athlete — reveals a bare midriff.
By targeting his comedic writing to 18- to 35-year-old males, Ufford has built a sports blog that attracts almost 1 million visitors each month. Ufford writes tongue-and-cheek items about the things his readers love: athletes and beautiful women. Stokke qualified as both. She was, therefore, a “no-brainer to write about,” Ufford said. He posted her picture and typed a four-paragraph blurb to accompany it. Meet pole vaulter Allison Stokke. . . . Hubba hubba and other grunting sounds.
“I understand there are certain people who are put off immediately by the tone of my blog,” Ufford said. “Every week, there’s somebody who takes offense to something, but that’s part of being a comedy writer. If nobody is complaining, it probably wasn’t funny. You are hoping for some kind of feedback.”
“Even if none of it is illegal, it just all feels really demeaning,” Allison Stokke said. “I worked so hard for pole vaulting and all this other stuff, and it’s almost like that doesn’t matter. Nobody sees that. Nobody really sees me.”
That’s Matt, shown above. Just in case anyone out there — for fairness’ sake — feels like y’know, objectifying him and subjecting his family and friends to all sorts of sallacious commentary purely because of his incredibly good looks.
In the meantime, I would like to apologize in advance to my hosting company and plead with them not to cut me off when CSTB’s traffic inevitably spikes. I realize that blogs and manly interest sites across the globe will either link to this post or attempt to hotlink Matt’s smoking snapshot. While I haven’t quite figured out how to pay the bill, you might say the decision to go down this path was a “no-brainer”.