By Mike Greenberg
Special to Page 2

Boy, that Tanith Belbin is gorgeous.

There, I said it.

You've been thinking it, I've been thinking it, what's so terrible about saying it? Somehow we have arrived at this place in sports where it is politically incorrect for a man to point out a great-looking woman. How did this happen? How did we get from avoiding language that would offend people (which is a good thing) to avoiding making fairly obvious and benign observations (which is pathetically stupid and pointless)?

Tanith Belbin
So, will you watch Tanith Belbin because you're a big fan of ice dancing? (Photo: U.S. Figure Skating)

And please don't tell me Ms. Belbin might be offended. There isn't a woman on the planet who is offended by a man calling her gorgeous. The overwhelmingly gorgeous ones might become accustomed to it, but at no point do they say, "Wow, if only I could shed this gorgeous rap, things might really pick up for me."

Also, I'm not listening if you tell me I'm objectifying women. I am the father of a 5-year-old girl, I am enormously concerned for her future, but nowhere on my list of concerns does it read: "I hope and pray no one ever calls her gorgeous."

It was actually the gorgeous woman in my own life who made me think about this. My wife and I were watching the Super Bowl when Tom Brady came out to toss the opening coin. (By the way, what was that jacket he was wearing? Did I miss a meeting? Is velvet making a comeback?) Anyway, as the Seahawks were calling tails, my wife said, "Boy, he's really good-looking, isn't he."

She didn't have to tell me which "he" she was referring to. That was painfully obvious, velvet or no velvet. But there was something about it that bothered me. I think it was the way she emphasized the word "really." It was something in the sound of her voice; I don't like any other man inspiring my wife to make that sound.

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So I called her on it.

"If I said that about a female athlete, you'd flip out on me," I said.

She didn't even turn her head. "No, I wouldn't," she said.

That's true, she wouldn't.

I tried again. "Well, I wouldn't do it anyway, out of respect for you."

This time she turned but didn't speak. She didn't have to. She just gave me that look, the one that says, "It is inconceivable to me that anyone could be such an idiot."

This fight -- if it could even be called that -- was not going well. Thus far she hadn't even felt the need to look at me and speak at the same time. That's a bad sign. If I were smart I would have just left it there. So, of course, I did not.

"Well, I just think it's a double standard," I said.

This time she looked at me when she spoke, and quickly I was nostalgic for a time when she hadn't felt this argument was worth having.

"The only double standard in this comes from you," she said. "I don't watch this game because Tom Brady is good-looking, I just happen to notice it along the way. But how about you? You don't even know the rules of beach volleyball, but we still have Kerri Walsh and Misty May on the TiVo from the last Olympics. Now, you tell me, is that because you have such appreciation for their talent? Or is it because they were wearing bathing suits that would be too small for our 5-year-old daughter?"

It is infuriating that she wins all these arguments.

Anyway, at that point I retreated. Much later, after the third or fourth horrendous call by the officials, I tiptoed gingerly back toward the topic.

"Let me ask you this. If I say I think Maria Sharapova is great-looking, is that a bad thing?"

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"Of course not," my wife said. "She's gorgeous. That's just an observation. Like with an actress. You think Charlize Theron is gorgeous, but you were most impressed with her in that movie 'Monster' where they made her look awful."

That's right.

"So, the point is," she finished, "the fact that she's gorgeous has nothing to do with her talent. It is just an observation, and it doesn't make any difference at all."

With that she left the room, which she often does in moments like that. Like Frank Sinatra after he sang "My Way." It's like she knows she's nailed the argument and there isn't anything left to say.

So I've thought about it a lot since then, and now the Olympics have started and my wife sat down to watch with me. This was my first chance to test it out.

"Well," I said, as casually as I could, "that skater Tanith Belbin is gorgeous."

My wife didn't say anything. She did give me a look, a different one this time, one I didn't recognize. I'm not sure I've seen it before, but I think it was a cross between "you might be catching on" and "don't press your luck."

Seems like a step in the right direction.

Enjoy the games, everybody -- however you choose to watch them.

Mike Greenberg is the co-host of "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio.




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