California High Schooler Allison Stokke, 18, Becomes a Victim Of
Unwanted Attention After Photo Is Posted on a Sports Blog
By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 29, 2007; A01
NORWALK, Calif. -- Early this month, 18-year-old Allison Stokke
walked into her high school track coach's office and asked if he knew
any reliable media consultants. Stokke had tired of constant phone
calls, of relentless Internet attention, of interview requests from
Boston to Brazil.
In her high school track and field career, Stokke had won a 2004
California state pole vaulting title, broken five national records
and earned a scholarship to the University of California, yet only
track devotees had noticed. Then, in early May, she received e-mails
from friends who warned that a year-old picture of Stokke idly
adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had been plastered
across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her
MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall
and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on
YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.
"I just want to find some way to get this all under control," Stokke
told her coach.
Three weeks later, Stokke has decided that control is essentially
beyond her grasp. Instead, she said, she has learned a distressing
lesson in the unruly momentum of the Internet. A fan on a Cal
football message board posted a picture of the attractive, athletic
pole vaulter. A popular sports blogger in New York found the picture
and posted it on his site. Dozens of other bloggers picked up the
same image and spread it. Within days, hundreds of thousands of
Internet users had searched for Stokke's picture and leered.
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
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: This is exactly the same thing as
happened to Lisa Minter. She made some very serious attempts to manage
the Telecom-News group on Yahoo, but I do not think she realized the
number of perverts there are roaming the internet at will. Now, I
guess, she is aware of that cold, hard fact. PAT]