FROM THE PAGES OF SI
New York Post, Friday Sports Special February
Once a Year, Smut Takes Over for Sport
Fifty-one weeks per year, the question
is, "Did you read this week's Sports Illustrated?"
Once a year, however, the question changes.
It becomes, "Did you check out this week"s Sports Illustrated?"
"Check it out." That"s what
the hustlers chant on 45th and Broadway as they distribute flyers for strip
joints and lap-dance dives. "Check it out!"
Fifty-one weeks per year, Sports Illustrated
takes the high road. It chronicles the moral decay in sports, assails the
staggering greed that has rendered sports unrecognizable and encourages
readers to reject the bad and champion the good. Right on!
SI is especially sensitive to issues
of women and women's sports.
SI finds it repugnant that women
are treated as sex objects; that colleges recruit young male athletes by
suggestively waving pretty women at them; that a Gary Sheffield has never
been married but has children from three different women; that too many
male athletes don't think the word "no," applies to them; that
many male athletes are sexually promiscuous, then shirk the residual responsibility
With a growing sense of horror and alarm,
SI cites the sexual abuse of women by the likes of Lawrence Phillips,
Christian Peter, Richie Parker and O.J. Simpson.
Fifty-one weeks per year, SI fights
the good fight, railing against the sleaze and greed that have come to
But once a year, for the last 34 years,
Sports Illustrated pulls a Jimmy Swaggart, and then some. SI
not only falls from its pulpit, it jumps in, wallet first. SI not
only disregards all the sensitivity training it provides, it's eager to
profit mightily by marketing up and selling what it purports to deplore.
Women should not be treated as sex objects, except one week per year, then
- va, va, va, voom! - SI steps on the gas.
The SI swimsuit issue! Check it out!
Hot babes in the flesh! Check it out, my good man! Guaranteed to get you
where you want to go! Check it out! We got 'em in all colors, all flavors,
all sizes! Check it out!
Like most strip joints when the prime flesh
is in the house, SI even adds a cover charge. The newsstand price
is bumped from $3.50 to five bucks for the swimsuit issue, this year, a
special "bonus" issue of the magazine. The ad rates zoom. SI
can't print enough of them. You can buy the swimsuit calendar, the home
cassette, the CD-ROM, watch the primetime TV show.
For all its sensitive treatment of women;
for all its moralizing from high above the fray, SI knows that sex
sells and SI wants its annual cut. The very phrase that outrages
SI about the condition of sports is what SI this week pays homage
to: Show me the money!
And SI's attempt to cloak its ourtageous
hypocrisy is darkly comical. The cover headline on this year's high-brow,
peep show points to a very topical, compelling sports issue - "Nothing
The issue includes an historical overview
of the bikini. Pornographic movie makers recognize this as the half-baked,
gratuitous plot, they include lest they violate the Supreme Court's decree
that films offer something - anything - that can be interpreted as holding
a modicum of socially redeeming value.
And just in case the historical piece on
the bikini didn't do the trick, there's the feature about Tyra Banks covering
a Laker game. There's a wonderful shot of Banks embracing Nick Van Exel,
who was portrayed less than a year ago in SI as an unrepentant thug;
a "gangsta hooper" (the same issue noted that Lawrence Phillips
had slipped in the NFL draft after beating the daylights out of his ex-girlfriend).
Aside from the Biography of the Bikini,
and Tyra Takes in a Ballgame, there's flesh, flesh, and more flesh. This
issue of Sports Illustrated has as much to do with sports as prostitution
has to do with love.
The table of contents includes the following:
"Page 76 - Strip! That's what Niki Taylor did perfectly while stalking
bonefish." But remember, sports fans, women should not be treated
a sex objects and anyone who does should get counseling or go directly
Truth is, "Nothing But Bikinis"
is a lie. There's more nothing than bikinis. The "bi" in bikini
means two, as in two pieces. Many of the women featured are wearing no
tops, nor much in the way of bottoms, either. You can find Waldo easier
than some of the "swimwear." One woman isn't wearing any kind
of bathing suit, but rather a see-through item that, ironically enough,
is called a "coverup."
And SI, in its on-going farcical
effort to offer the feel of a legitimate swimsuit catalogue, prints the
prices and makers of the swimwear, even though much of the swimwear was
either removed or left back in the hotel. "You forgot the top to your
suit, Niki? Aw, for cryin' out loud, it's supposed to be a bikini issue!
Alright, we'll just have to shoot you without the top. I sure hope SI
Placing the swimsuit maker's name and list
price for the suits constitutes a great service to shoppers. Sure. "I
think I'll get this for Marge for her birthday." In the interest of
consumerism, SI should've printed the cost of bail because people
who dress this way on a public beach or at a public pool are subject to
A good friend at SI yesterday told
me to lighten up; that no one forces these models to pose and they make
big money for the effort. Well, the same can be said of SI - no
one forces it to publish this kind of issue and it makes big money for
Last year, when my nine-year-old fetched
the mail that included the swimsuit issue, she confronted me, upset, as
if she'd discovered dad on the mailing list for a skin mag. "Great,"
I said to myself, "I now have to hide Sports Illustrated, of
all things, from view."
(I act similarly when reading the sports
pages of newspapers, including The Post, when I've turned to a page that
includes ads for strip joints. I now have to check for the presence of
kids while reading the sports pages!)
This year, I made a preemptive strike, grabbing
SI's swimsuit issue from the mailbox, then rolling it into a cylinder
- the back cover advertisement exposed - before returning to the house.
Imagine, I had to sneak Sports Illustrated into the house! Can't
SI send it in a plain brown wrapper?
Next week, its money made, SI will
return to telling us about a greed-striken sports world and reminding us
that women are not sex objects. No doubt we'll read about this week's allegations
of the latest physical and sexual abuse of a woman by Lawrence Phillips.
No cover charge.