February 23, 2001

Illustrated Sports?

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As the Sports Editor of The Sun, I get a complimentary issue of Sports Illustrated thanks to the fine folks who crunch the numbers and keep this place afloat financially.

Normally, I rather enjoy SI’s view on the world of sports.

But one week a year, I question what the hell is the point of the magazine.

If you haven’t figured it out by now (or seen it on the newsstand), perhaps the last bastion of male chauvinism in mainstream print media is out this week.

The Swimsuit Issue.

Yes, these women are incredibly gorgeous when they manage not to look anorexic. But what the hell are they doing in perhaps the most reputable sports publication in the country?

The Swimsuit Issue makes a mockery out of the this esteemed magazine and its readers. Let’s face it, you don’t look at the Swimsuit Issue for athletic information. You can’t, because there isn’t coverage of any athletic event anywhere in the world in this year’s issue, and that’s not the only thing that lacks coverage. Granted, last year’s issue did include an informative piece about how athletes and their wives have been affected by the swimsuit industry, by making the wives wear the swimsuits. This was only slightly less informative than Cosmo’s January issue explaining Plato’s theory of justice.

As I waltzed into The Sun and checked out the new issue, I was struck by how dumb it truly is. The target audience is obviously composed entirely of men who couldn’t buy the swimsuits advertised in the “Swimsuit Issue” for a woman even if they wanted to. No woman they know would crawl into these swimsuits, even if they did have the impossible body type.

And then as I sat there scanning the publication, a female sports writer walked into the room. Now, it’s not that I think women can’t get past guys looking at this magazine, but I think it likely damages my credibility as an editor to any women on staff if I go around gwaking at the models, proclaiming this is the best Swimsuit Issue ever.

I’m not a woman, so I’m not sure, but I don’t think that any female writers in the Sports section of The Sun would be really pleased by this.

I don’t claim to be making a revolutionary argument here, nor I am a puritan boy who thinks you can’t touch a female until marriage. I don’t think beautiful women should run and hide, and I don’t claim to be a great supporter of feminist movements (with my limited understanding of them).

What I do think is that a reputable sports magazine publishing a yearly issue filled with nothing but ravishing women covered by next to nothing is outrageous. And that there is no information relevant to athletics at all in the magazine is heinous.

If Sports Illustrated wants to continue publishing the issue, it should put “Swimsuit Illustrated” across the top. This issue has nothing to do with athletics, so it’s time to stop publishing it under any relation to the world of sports.

Besides, if you want to see women with the “perfect body” in bathing suits crossed with birthday suits, go buy a Playboy or a Maxim. Just don’t pretend you’re reading it for the articles.


Archived article by J.V. Anderton