PARIS, France - If they stopped employing invariably young and pretty women to parade around, often in short skirts or less, would motor racing and shows be less interesting?Of course not.So why do these and other sports feel compelled to feed fans eye candy?Ultimately, by doing so, they are saying that among the best uses for a woman is to look hot. Sports that don't give women equal opportunities but encourage them to flash a bit of leg are suggesting that their place is to be the sidekicks of victorious men, instead of being victorious and competing themselves.'LET'S FACE IT, SEX SELLS'Ross Bennett, who designed the cowgirl outfits word by gird girls at the 2012 US grand prix, said: "Let's face it, sex does sell. We all know that. That's what advertisers use and marketing companies use, because it just sells."These women are being photographed by thousands of people, all day long, and stared at kind of like a piece of meat. I hate to say it that way, but like, you know, they are being used as eye candy and attracting people to the track, along with the drivers."Are male attention spans so pitifully short that they lose their appetite for sports that don't offer side orders of female beauties to snort at? Boxing fans, for instance, can't talk among themselves for 60 seconds while fighters take breathers? They need women in bikinis and heels to entertain them and help them track the rounds because they can't count from one to 12 themselves? How sad.Cyclist Peter Sagan inadvertently raised such questions when he pinched the bottom of a "podium girl" at the Tour of Flanders, a race over cobbled roads and hills in Belgium. Photos caught him red-handed with a cheeky smile as he squeezed. She couldn't see the grope coming because she had her back to him and was otherwise engaged doing her duty -planting a kiss on the cheek of race-winner Fabian Cancellara.Sagan, on the podium as runner-up, later realised how inappropriate was his gesture: "I never should have done it. I'm so sorry. I promise to act more respectfully in the future." The woman, Maja Leye, tweeted that Sagan's pinch "was wrong" and "I hope this never happens again". She also said she accepted his apologies, so no lasting harm seemed to have been done.Still, why are women put in such positions? With an audience and cameras watching, Leye could hardly have whipped around and given Sagan the slap he deserved.'HAPPY TO SMILING FACES'Podium girls, grid girls, flower girls, race queens, pit babes - the nickname and hemline lengths vary from sport to sport but the job description is fairly universal: look good, pose for photos, and make men look attractive and successful by applauding and kissing them before they celebrate by spraying everyone with Champagne. How phallocentric (Wheels24: Wow, we never thought of that one, John!).Laurent Lachaux, marketing director at ASO and organiser of the Tour de France, explains why the race employs 50 or so young girls for the daily podium awards: "We haven't found anything better. It doesn't pose a problem to the riders - quite the contrary - or to the sponsors, who are happy to have such smiling faces promoting their image. "For us, it's not backward. Quite the opposite. It shows off the freshness of the young hostesses. That's good. It's part of the tradition."It can, though rarely, work both ways. Olympic cycling champion Marianne Vos said she got kisses from a podium boy when she won a race in The Netherlands, the Ronde van Drenthe, in March 2013.Vos said said: "You get the flowers on the podium and you have to get the flowers from somebody and it's nice, for us, if it's a handsome guy or, for the guys, if it's a pretty girl. For me, that's the tradition, that's no problem."That's certainly one view. The point isn't to be a sourpuss and pretend that a bit of wanted attention from the opposite sex can be pleasant but it grates to see sports, that haven't given female competitors an equal shake, putting women on parade for their looks and not their athletic abilities.If you type "girls" and "Formula 1" into Google you won’t read about Williams’ female test driver Susie Wolf but you will see plenty of photos of women wearing not very much.It's archaic and it's unfair. It's also a safe bet that if women ran sports they would be far too civilised to make men parade around for their pleasure.Couple of comments from Wheels24: First, nobody makes the grid girls, flower girls, girls full stop, parade around. They apply/agencies supply them and they get paid. They are often models, and what better advertising for a model than to get yourself on global TV holding an umbrella over a perspiring F1 driver in his car? And is John so naive that he thinks women don't enjoy looking at handsome guys and having, er, thoughts?What do Wheels24 readers think? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts.