First look: In ESPN’s magazine, showing skin is no issue
By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY
Tennis star Serena Williams, the NBA’s Dwight Howard, the NFL’s Adrian Peterson and mixed martial artist Gina Carano are among the 30-plus athletes posing nude or semi-nude in ESPN The Magazine’s first-ever “Body Issue” hitting newsstands Oct. 9.
The magazine will show athletes on the field and off, and even in the operating room during knee surgery, said editor-in-chief Gary Belsky during a conference call Wednesday.
In one section called “Bodies We Want” top athletes either pose in the buff (with private parts strategically covered) or with minimal clothing. The section is “essentially our version of the best bodies in sports,” said Belsky.
The magazine has chosen six athletes (3 male and 3 female) from this section to appear on six different magazine covers.
In another section called “Exposure,” groups of athletes from the LPGA, the U.S. Women’s Softball Team, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Major League Soccer’s D.C. United and even a group of poker players pose in their birthday suits.
Most athletes were enthusiastic about appearing, Belsky said. Some even contacted the magazine themselves. Other big names took a pass.
“I’m pretty sure we asked Tiger Woods or his people. … I’m guessing he turned us down,” he said. “We’ll get him next year.”
ESPN did not ask Danica Patrick, who appears elsewhere in the issue’s regular sports coverage. But she could appear in the future. “She’s going to be racing for a while. We’ll be doing this issue every year. So I’m sure we’ll get to her at some point.”
A rundown on athletes appearing:
•Tennis: Williams, James Blake
•NFL: Peterson, Casey Hampton, Torry Holt
•NBA/WNBA: Howard, Cappie Pondexter
•Major League Baseball: Nelson Cruz, Joba Chamberlain and Ivan Rodriguez
•NHL: Zdeno Chara, Chris Higgins, Sheldon Souray, Bill Guerin, Mike Komisarek
•NASCAR: Carl Edwards, Mark Martin
•Olympics: Jessica Mendoza, Susan Francia, Shawn Johnson, Allison Baver, Johnny Weir, Cheryl Haworth
•Boxing: Manny Pacquiao
•LPGA: Christina Kim, Sandra Gal, Anna Grzebien
•Mixed martial arts: Carano, Randy Couture
•Surfing: Claire Bevilacqua; Laird Hamilton
•Soccer: Natasha Kai, Chris Pontius, Bryan Namoff, Clyde Simms
•Skiing: Kristi Leskinen, Julia Mancuso
•Track and field: Lolo Jones, Michelle Carter
•Horse racing: Alexis Solis.
•Climbing: Steph Davis
Olympic softball star Mendoza, president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, posed while eight months pregnant. “I try to get young girls to see themselves as beautiful and to not feel insecure about their bodies,” she said. “The more we can get more realistic bodies in front of them, the better.”
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