Fastest growing retailers

Posted on: August 11th, 2014 by

Whole Foods MarketFollowing the recession, retailers are growing once again and, increasingly, moving online. In the first quarter of 2014, retail sales were 2.4% higher than the same time the year before, largely helped by a 15% jump in e-commerce sales. Online retail is increasingly accounting for more and more of America’s shopping.

Yet not all retailers have adapted to a market where many Americans have less disposable income, and are increasingly choosing to shop online. Other companies, in turn, have become enormously successful by embracing these changes. Based on figures from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) STORES magazine, compiled by Kantar Retail, 24/7 Wall St. identified America’s Fastest-Growing Retailers.

In 2013,’s U.S. sales rose by 27%, the most of any retailer. For some retailers, such as Tractor Supply Co., part of its continued growth comes from the fact that they sell products simply cannot, such as farm equipment and livestock.

Many other retailers have also moved online, embracing a more-targeted approach in order to set themselves apart from the competition. Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer at Kantar Retail, told 24/7 Wall St. that this kind of personalized approach, “makes buying much more enjoyable and finding what you want much quicker.”

Some retailers have benefited from the financial struggles facing many Americans. This includes Family Dollar, which targets low income shoppers and had 11% growth in sales in 2013. Others, such as Sherwin Williams, have benefited from more positive developments in the economy. An improving housing market helped the company’s sales rise by 18% last year.

And while many growing retailers are deeply impacted by changes in the economy, others are benefiting from evolving customer tastes. Both Whole Foods and Apple are among the fastest-growing retailers in America, and both have very strong brands aligned with changing consumer spending. Whole Foods’ commitment to organic food and Apple’s exceptional mobile product quality both resonate strongly with customers, who are often willing to pay more for these items.

While many of the fastest-growing retailers have different customers and products, they also have a great deal in common. Gildenberg noted that many retailers aimed “most of [their] energy at the middle of the market.” However, he added that, recently, growth has generally been stronger among companies that target a specific segment of the population.

For example, he noted that Whole Foods and Family Dollar are much more similar than they might look at first glance. “They both target segments of the population that general mass retail, for whatever reason, doesn’t serve as well.”

The addition of new stores can also play an important role in driving sales growth. Excluding Amazon, which is exclusively online, all but one of the fastest-growing retailers increased their U.S. store count in 2013. The one retailer that did not do so, AT&T, has heavily invested in new store designs and has opened or renovated a number of locations. Gildenberg noted that store growth is currently quite strong among more specialized retailers with unique store concepts.

To identify America’s 10 fastest-growing retailers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed STORES’ Top 100 Retailers report. The report is based on Kantar Retail’s estimates for companies’ retail-only sales, and includes the 100 largest companies by this measure, as well as their estimated number of stores. The companies on our list had the largest percentage gains in U.S. retail sales between 2012 and 2013. Sales figures listed do not include third-party sales. We also excluded Albertson’s and Ascena Retail Group from our list. These companies had retail revenue gains that were largely driven by transformative mergers and acquisitions.

And the rebels continue to cause issues in Iraq

Posted on: July 11th, 2014 by

Iraq has warned the UN that Sunni militants have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the city of     Mosul.  In a letter seen by Reuters, Iraq’s envoy to the UN said nearly 40kg (88lb) of uranium compounds were seized.  The letter appealed for international help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad”.

But the UN atomic agency IAEA said the material was “low grade” and did not pose a significant security risk.  US officials have also reportedly played down the threat, saying the materials were not believed to be enriched uranium.  They added that it would be difficult for the rebels to use the materials to make weapons.Sunni Militants

“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said in the letter.  “These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separately or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts,” he added.

However, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesperson Gill Tudor said on Thursday it “would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk”.  But she said that “any loss of regulatory control over nuclear and other radioactive materials is a cause for concern”.

Mosul, some 400km (250 miles) north-west of Baghdad, was last month seized by Isis-led (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) insurgents.

The letter comes a day after Iraqi officials confirmed that the rebels were in control of a disused chemical weapons factory.  Iraq said the Muthanna complex, north-west of the capital Baghdad, housed remnants of rockets filled with sarin and other deadly nerve agents.  The UN and US have said the munitions are degraded and the rebels will be unable to make usable chemical arms from them.

Meanwhile, tensions are building between the central Iraqi authorities and the autonomous Kurdistan regional government, one day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Isis militants were being harboured in the Kurdish city of Irbil.  A spokesman for Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said that Mr Maliki had become hysterical and urged him to step down.  He said: “You have destroyed the country and someone who has destroyed the country cannot save the country from crises.”  Kurdish ministers have also said they would not attend cabinet meetings until further notice in protest at Mr Maliki’s comments.

In recent weeks, Isis insurgents have seized huge swathes of north-western Iraq.  Kurdish troops moved into areas abandoned by the Iraqi forces during the Isis onslaught, including the oil-rich region of Kirkuk.  The UN has said at least 2,417 Iraqis, including 1,531 civilians, were killed in “acts of violence and terrorism” in June.  More than a million people have fled their homes as a result of the fighting.

Remembering a friend and fellow competetor

Posted on: February 20th, 2014 by

Sarah BurkeThis one was for Sarah.  Her braid whipping in the chilly mountain air, Maddie Bowman of the US soared to the first gold medal in women’s Olympic half pipe skiing on Thursday, edging out Marie Martinod, of France, in the final.  This would be a night to remember as they were paying tribute to their friend, Canadian freestyle skiing icon Sarah Burke.

Burke, a leading advocate of adding several events — including half-pipe — to the Olympic program, died following a training accident in 2012. Her parents, Gordon Burke and Jan Phelan, watched as Bowman made history.

“It was Sarah’s dream to be here,” Phelan said. “So, it’s here. The half-pipe is opening for the women and I miss her like crazy.”

The athletes Burke championed tried to rise to the occasion, Bowman in particular.

“Sarah has inspired us on snow or off snow,” Bowman said. “I think she would have been very proud of how all the girls rode tonight. … I hope I and all the other girls made her proud. We wouldn’t have been here without her.”

Bowman showed some of Burke’s tenaciousness in the finals.

The 20-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was just third in qualifying but found a rhythm in the medal round after overcoming some jitters that she joked made her want to “barf.”

Stringing along a dizzying series of spins and grabs, Bowman performed the two highest-scoring runs of the night.

Bowman’s first finals run, an 85.80, put pressure on Martinod, who led qualifying. Bowman’s second trip through the half-pipe was even better. She clasped the side of her helmet in disbelief then sat and waited to see if Martinod or American teammate Brita Sigourney could top her.


Sigourney, who washed out in her first finals run, appeared ready to threaten Bowman before her backside skimmed the snow with only one jump off the 22-foot half-pipe left to complete her run.

That left Martinod, who retired in 2007 but returned to the sport in 2012 at the urging of Burke. The 29-year-old Frenchwoman was one of the older performers in the 23-skier field and her introduction included a series of outtakes with her 4-year-old daughter Melirose.

“She’s my everything,” Martinod said. “I keep training and charging and doing what I love because I want her to see how great it is to achieve some goals and be able to reach the point I wanted to be.”

It’s a spot Martinod would not have reached if not pushed by Burke, who casually suggested to Martinod three years ago that it was time to come back. Burke was convinced the half-pipe would be in the Olympics. Martinod was not sure she was up for the challenge after such a long layoff.

“I said, ‘Sarah, I love you, but it’s not possible,”’ Martinod said. “It’s too long (a) time. I quit skiing.”

It didn’t look like it in the final. Her 85.40 earned silver and gave her a chance for her to say “goodbye” to Burke. Martinod painted snowflakes on her fingernails in tribute then stood on the podium alongside her daughter in triumph.

“I feel very proud of these women,” Martinod said.

There were several hard crashes during qualifying, the worst coming when Anais Caradeux slammed into the ice during her second run. The 23-year-old Frenchwoman lay motionless for several seconds before being tended to by medics.

Caradeux sustained lacerations on her face but managed to ski down the half-pipe to the medical tent. She qualified ninth but didn’t compete in the finals. Caradeux said afterward she blacked out for 10-to-15 seconds and sustained some short-term memory loss.

She was hardly alone on a sometimes bruising night. Sigourney took a rough fall during her first finals run, with Bowman sprinting up the half-pipe to help her up. She recovered in time to take a second trip down the slope but it wasn’t nearly good enough.

Sigourney blinked back tears of disappointment, though they were soon cast aside during an event that served as a celebration of Burke’s legacy.

“A lot of girls were really pushing themselves,” said Rosalind Groenewoud of Canada, who finished seventh. “I wish (Sarah) could have won tonight if it wasn’t me.”

Bowman’s gold was the sixth for the U.S. at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. She was joined by teammate David Wise — who won gold in the men’s competition Tuesday — atop the medal stand, though Bowman understood the night was about more than just national pride.

“This is first time a lot of people in this world saw what we do and why we love it,” she said.

Shocker: US Women lose to Canada

Posted on: February 20th, 2014 by

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Women's Ice Hockey Canada vs USA gold medal gameMarie-Philip Poulin scored twice for the second straight Olympic gold medal game and Canada beat the United States 3-2 in overtime on Thursday for its fourth consecutive title.

Canada trailed 2-0 before Brianne Jenner and Poulin scored in the final 3:26 of regulation, and Poulin had the game-winner with a power play goal at 8:10 of overtime.

Shannon Szabados made 27 saves for Canada, which has won 20 straight in the Winter Games since the Nagano final in 1998. That was the only gold medal for the United States, which has lost in the Olympic final to Canada three times since then.

Jesse Vetter made 28 saves for the Americans. Meghan Duggan and Alex Carpenter scored for the U.S.

Switzerland beat Sweden for the bronze medal earlier Thursday.

Vetter, the loser in the Vancouver final, had a shutout until Jenner’s seemingly harmless shot deflected off a defender’s knee and into the net. With the goalie pulled for an extra skater, U.S. forward Kelli Stack sent the puck the length of the ice before it clanged off the post and landed harmlessly in front of the goal.

It was still a one-goal game, but not for long.

With Szabados still off, Poulin scored just 54.6 seconds before the end of regulation.

After six tense minutes of overtime, the U.S. picked up a power play when Catherine Ward was sent off for cross-checking. But five seconds later, Jocelyne Lamoureux was called for slashing for swiping at the goalie’s pads after a save. And during a bad player change by the Americans, five-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser got free on a breakaway before she was bumped from behind by Hilary Knight and sent sprawling.

It could have been called a penalty shot. It could have been no call.

But Knight was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking. With the 4-on-3 advantage, the Canadians worked the puck around and over to Poulin, who knocked it into the open net and set off the celebration on the bench and among the Maple Leaf-waving fans.

Womens’ hockey

Posted on: February 17th, 2014 by

For the fifth time in Olympic history, the world’s best female hockey players will face off for a shot at gold at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The strong growth of women’s hockey saw the sport approved for Olympic inclusion in 1992, with a debut at the Nagano games in 1998. Team USA triumphed at that inaugural event, but the powerhouse Canadians have since won three straight golds in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

The continued dominance of the two North American squads over the rest of the field has led to a format change that was first introduced at the 2012 IIHF World Championship. The change in group structure has proven successful at creating a better competitive balance in the early rounds and lessening the dominating blowouts inflicted by the U.S. and Canadian sides.

If you’re familiar with men’s hockey, you won’t see a lot of difference in the women’s game—except for the ponytails hanging out from the bottoms of players’ helmets. Body-checking is illegal in women’s hockey, but there’s still a strong physical component to the game. Female players are just as adept as the men at using their bodies and sticks to challenge their opponents—they’re just a little sneakier.

Women’s hockey is one of the first events to kick off at this year’s Games. The preliminary round gets underway on Feb. 8 at Shayba Arena, and the gold medals will be awarded on Feb. 20 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

Shaun White shocker

Posted on: February 12th, 2014 by

Shaun WhiteShaun White lost to a kid they call “I-Pod,” and now, he may never hear the end of it.

How big of an Olympic shocker was this? White, the best snowboarder of his era and one of the best-known and best-marketed athletes at the Sochi Games, didn’t even win a medal. He finished fourth.

The 27-year-old American, who opted out of the Olympic slopestyle debut and put all his chips in the halfpipe, where he hoped to win a third straight gold, got knocked off by Iouri Podladtchikov, the Russian-born inventor of the “Yolo,” the trick that White could not master.

“I’m disappointed,” White said. “I hate the fact I nailed it in practice, but it happens. It’s hard to be consistent.”

The Japanese tandem of 15-year-old Ayumu Hirano and 18-year-old Taku Hiraoka won silver and bronze, respectively, and the Americans were shut out in the halfpipe for the first time since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1998.

Podladtchikov, who lives in and competes for Switzerland, landed the trick successfully at an event in Europe last season, but hadn’t done it since.

“I’m about to faint. I haven’t seen the gold yet,” said Podladtchikov, who gets his gold Wednesday. “That’s why I don’t believe it.”

White watched the replay of I-Pod’s trick last March on his computer and went to work trying to match it.

He landed it twice in qualifying events and was listed as the heavy favorite to become the seventh person to win three straight gold medals in an individual event at the Winter Games.

White had come to Russia hoping to win two gold medals, but when he pulled out of the Olympics’ inaugural slopestyle contest, saying he didn’t want to risk injury for his historic quest on the halfpipe, the stakes were set.

It unraveled early.

On White’s first of two runs in the final, his attempt at the Yolo ended with a fall that left him sliding down the halfpipe on his backside. Even though his chance at putting up a winning score was over, he tried to finish the run with another of his double-cork tricks. White wasn’t close — his board slammed on the lip of the pipe, followed by an awkward fall onto his rear.

I-Pod scored an 86.5 in his first run — clearly in medal contention — and then won it on his second attempt. The Yolo includes a total of 1440 degrees of spin — two head-over-heels flips and two 360-degree turns. Four years ago, it was unthinkable, but not anymore. He landed it, and even though he threw only five tricks when most riders were trying six in a supersized, super-slushy halfpipe, the judges liked what they saw.

As did I-Pod, who spiked his snowboard into the snow like a football and threw his goggles into the crowd.

“He’s incredible,” American Danny Davis, the 10th-place finisher, said of Podladtchikov. “That run on that halfpipe. Wow.”

I-Pod struggled in the qualifying round earlier Tuesday, forcing him into a semifinal round while White and the five other top scorers went directly to the final. The extra runs seemed to help, as did the cold night air that seemed to improve the condition of the halfpipe, which competitors had been complaining about all week.

I-Pod scored 87.50 on his first semifinal run, clearing his way to the final. His 94.75 in the second final run put huge pressure on White, whose final runs at the past two Olympics have been nothing more than pressure-free victory rides.

White stood at the top of the halfpipe, high-fived and bumped knuckles with his coach, clapped his hands and away he went.

The first two jumps were flawless — higher than anyone and landed more solidly.

Then, the Yolo. Tucking his hands together to generate torque, then waving one like a cowboy riding a bucking bronc, the form looked good during his three seconds in the air.

But on the landing, he skittered down the pipe and lost speed, which meant he lost height on the next jump, as well.

The landing on his last double cork was less than perfect, too — his knees buckled and nearly touched the snow. Across the finish line, White raised one finger in the air and raised his hands in victory. Yes, sometimes judges reward athletes for what they’ve done, not what they just did.

Not this time. White’s fourth-place score, a 90.25, came up, and he broke into a big smile. He gave Podladtchikov a big hug and, in a fatherly gesture, mussed his hair.

“I saw videos of Shaun doing it really well,” Podladtchikov said. “I got bummed, said, ‘Damn, that’s my trick and he’s doing it better than me.’ Today, I guess I was doing it a little better.”


Bob Costas still suffering eye ailment

Posted on: February 9th, 2014 by

Bob Costas' eyeNBC’s Bob Costas has anchored the network’s Olympics coverage for several decades, to the point where many American viewers of the event consider him a feature of the competition along with those five (or sometimes four) iconic rings.  However, as Costas struggles with a very apparent eye infection during the Sochi Games, he’s not quite the same presence in the studio.

On Thursday, Costas welcomed viewers to NBC’s opening night of Sochi coverage by drawing attention to his very, very red left eye.  His infection quickly became the talk of pre-Opening Ceremony coverage, although the hope was that things would clear up relatively soon.

When Costas opened up NBC’s Monday night primetime coverage, it immediately became clear that no such thing has occurred.  In fact, Costas looks quite a bit worse, with the infection now glaringly evident in both eyes.

Unlike Thursday, Costas did not immediately reference his condition on air.  It appears that he’d prefer to focus on the Olympic action, even if his eyes are sure to remain a topic of conversation for as long as they continue to look this way.

Despite the sorry state of Costas’ eyes, chances are he’s not in serious medical danger.  Typical recovery times for pinkeye — if that’s indeed what he has — run from a couple days to two weeks.  Given his status at the network and the importance of the Sochi Olympics to NBC’s ratings and bottom line, it figures that Costas will continue to anchor coverage for as long as he’s medically able.  He essentially owns Olympic coverage at NBC, and it would take a lot to keep him out of the studio.

However, it’s worth considering whether continued problems for Costas and his eyes will eventually negate the positives of having him in studio.  Costas can be a divisive figure, but the mere fact that he has anchored Olympics coverage for so long provides measures of continuity and familiarity despite viewers often not knowing anything about Olympic athletes ahead of their events.  But this Costas does not look like the anchor we know.  With this infection, he only adds to the widespread, maybe unfair impression that the Sochi Games are a bizarre, dystopian entity.  It’s all a little disorienting and confusing.  Presumably, that’s not what NBC wants to communicate to viewers.

USA wins first Gold medal

Posted on: February 8th, 2014 by

Sage Kotsenburg wins first goldAmerican snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of the Sochi Games Saturday, beating out Canadian favorites Maxine Parrot and Mark Morris in the Olympics’ premiere slopestyle competition.

After Shaun White pulled out of the event a few days ago, the hopes to medal in this event were grim; not to mention the fact that many of the participants had stated the danger of the treacherous course.  Earlier in the day, a female competitor had landed head first in the snow.  Kotsenburg prevailed in what proved to be a difficult fight.

Maxine Parrot landed in fifth, while Mark McMorris, who competed with a broken rib, won bronze.  Norway’s Staale Sandbech, the top scorer of the competition in qualifiers, took silver.  Kostenburg was the only American to advance to the final round of the competition after teammates Charles Guldemond and Ryan Strassel were bumped out in semi-finals earlier in the day.

The 20-year-old Utah native had to fight for his place in the medal round.  He was not among the top eight snowboarders to automatically advance to finals from Thursday’s qualifying competition.  But he steadily improved in the second round, living up to his nickname, “second-run Sage.”

Still, Kostenburg appeared surprised at the positive turn of events.  “Whoa how random is this I made finals at the Olympics!!!” he tweeted.

He was the first man up at the finals and immediately became the one to beat.  The uber laid-back snowboarder tamed the treacherous course that chased away teammate Shaun White earlier in the week and sent several other contenders to the medical tent.

While the course that features a large nesting doll, tricky rails and three jumps took out its fair share of riders, Kotsenburg kept his cool.  His blonde hair flapping out from under his helmet as he soared through the sun-splashed Caucasus Mountains, Kotsenburg looked as if he were cruising down the hill with friends.  Still, there was drama as he waited out the rest of the 12-man field.  He stood off to the side after his second run, a not quite sharp 83.25, and clapped behind a nervous smile as the rest of the field aimed for his score.

McMorris, slowed by his broken rib, couldn’t quite get there. A gold medal favorite before his injury at X Games last month, McMorris needed to scramble to get through the semifinals and his trip down the hill in the finals was solid but not spectacular.  Sandbech, who went next to last, was nearly flawless.  He was so pumped after his second run he belly-flopped onto the ground.  His 91.75 wasn’t quite good enough, leaving only Parrot in Kotsenburg’s way of gold.

Parrot dominated qualifying, posting the best score of the week.  He put together a flawless first run only to sit on the landing of his final jump. He wobbled twice on his second run.  He dropped his head when his 87.25 popped up on the scoreboard while Kotsenburg raised his arms in triumph.

Go Team USA!

13 Dead – Navy Yard Shooting

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 by

Navy Yard ShootingThe same company that investigated alleged Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis for his security clearance also did a 2011 follow-up investigation of Edward Snowden, the former NSA systems analyst who leaked documents about the National Security Agency.

The company, USIS, said in a statement Thursday it conducted Alexis’ background check in 2007 for the Office of Personnel Management but that it couldn’t elaborate.

“Today we were informed that in 2007, USIS conducted a background check of Aaron Alexis for [the Office of Personnel Management],” spokesman Ray Howell said. “We are contractually prohibited from retaining case information gathered as part of the background checks we conduct for OPM and therefore are unable to comment further on the nature or scope of this or any other background check.”

USIS is under a federal investigation into possible criminal violations involving its oversight of background checks, the AP reported in July. USIS dominates the background check industry, taking in $195 million in government payments last year and more than $215 million this year.

Alexis had worked for a Florida-based IT consulting firm called The Experts. He had been refreshing Pentagon computer systems, holding a military security clearance that would have expired five years from now.

Alexis’ employer said it had had no personnel problems with him and two separate background checks revealed only a traffic violation. But there were trouble signs below the surface. Public records databases used in those kinds of searches can be spotty repositories of arrest records, court dockets and other information.

The Experts — and possibly the government — missed how, in September 2010, Alexis’ neighbor called police in Fort Worth, Texas, after she said she was nearly struck by a bullet shot from his downstairs apartment. When police confronted Alexis about the shooting, he said he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally discharged. Alexis was arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm within city limits.

The checks also missed how, six years earlier, Seattle police arrested Alexis for shooting the tires of another man’s vehicle in what he later described as an angry “blackout.” Police said two construction workers reported seeing a man, later identified as Alexis, walk out of the home next to their worksite, pull a gun from his waistband and fire three shots into the rear tires of their car before he walked back home.

No charges were filed in either the Fort Worth or Seattle incidents.

The Experts said it had most recently used a company called First Advantage of Alpharetta, Ga., to search Alexis’ past for criminal involvement. A First Advantage spokeswoman said Thursday The Experts asked only for a typical employment background check that only returns information on convictions, not merely arrests.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Wednesday that he wants three rapid reviews of security clearance procedures completed by Oct. 1, including a review of Alexis’ service record to determine whether his conduct problems while in the Navy should have threatened his ability to keep his clearance.

The announcement came after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of the physical security and access procedures at all U.S. defense facilities worldwide as well as a study of the programs used for granting and renewing the security clearances for the military, civilian employees and contractors.

“Obviously, there were a lot of red flags” about Alexis, Hagel told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday. “Why they didn’t get picked, why they didn’t get incorporated into the clearance process, what he was doing, those are all legitimate questions that we’re going to be dealing with.”

Hagel, facing mounting questions from lawmakers and the public over the military’s security procedures, said he has ordered two Pentagon reviews. One will examine the physical security and access procedures at DoD facilities around the world. The other will examine the procedures for granting and renewing security clearances, including to contractors. Hagel said an independent panel will also look at those issues, while the Navy conducts a review of its own.

Military leaders are under pressure to account for how Alexis was able to both keep his security clearance — despite a history of disturbing and violent behavior — and walk into the military facility with a shotgun.

New female Wimbledon champ isn’t exactly a looker?

Posted on: July 7th, 2013 by

Eric L. Bach, CPA - RockvilleAs the final matches were rounding up in London, some rather unflattering comments were made about this year’s new female singles champ.  The outrage has left BBC facing mounting pressure to take action against one its most high-profile sports presenters for criticizing the appearance of France’s Marion Bartoli.

John Inverdale incensed radio listeners before Bartoli beat German Sabine Lisicki when he asked if people thought her father told her when little that she was never going to be “a looker” like Maria Sharapova so would have to fight harder for success.  The last thing any little girl would want to hear from their father.  Eventually, he did apologize for the comments after a storm of protests on Twitter, admitting the remark was “insensitive”.

Inverdale said on Sunday he had written to apologize to Bartoli and told listeners ahead of Sunday’ men’s final that he used “a clumsy phrase” about Bartoli in trying to make a point that not all players need to be “6 ft fall Amazonian athletes”.  As a female, I can think of any instance that I would take his comment as such.  It is simply a blatant insult.  And the public seems to feel the same.

“This is appalling.  Tennis is one of the worst offenders in sport in terms of the focus on women athletes’ looks and the BBC needs to take action,” Sue Tibbals, chief executive of the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation, told Reuters.  “I thought Bartoli was an absolute inspiration, so spirited and gutsy, and she does not deserve these outrageous remarks.  This is not a one-off event from this presenter.”

A BBC spokesman, however, said the corporation had apologized and so had Inverdale and that there were no plans for further action to be taken.

Bartoli, 28, won the admiration of Centre Court on Saturday when she won her first grand slam title in a straight-sets victory over 23-year-old Lisicki that earned her 1.6 million pounds ($2.4 million) in prize money.  The Frenchwoman, celebrating her success in becoming the first Frenchwoman in seven years to win the coveted Wimbledon women’s title, shrugged off Inverdale’s comments.

“It doesn’t matter, honestly.  I am not blonde, yes.  That is a fact,” Bartoli said in a press briefing late on Saturday.  “Have I dreamt about having a model contract?  No.  I’m sorry.  But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.”  Bravo on her maturity and ability to let the negative comments roll off with such ease.  Twitter users praised Bartoli’s dignity as they called on the BBC to act against Inverdale.  Many of the Tweets included the hashtag “Everyday Sexism”, which has gathered a large following as people tweet examples of causal sexism in the workplace and public life.

“Isn’t it time the BBC woke up to the sexism at the heart of its sport broadcasting?” tweeted feminist blogger Leopard.

“#BBC apology over sexism comments not good enough. suspend #Inverdale & hold enquiry. Sexism is on par with racism,” tweeted yvonneridley.

The incident came after the BBC has this year faced one of the biggest crises in its 90-year history.  A sex scandal involving the late TV presenter Jimmy Savile threw the broadcaster into turmoil and raised questions about the organization’s ethics, leading to the appointment of a new head, Tony Hall.  Hopefully Mr. Hall is a pro at damage control if the BBC continues to head in the direction that it is now.



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