Normally, I'd say Sports Illustrated should give a fresh face a chance to appear front and center on their annual swimsuit issue, but in this case, Kate Upton is the right choice to repeat as cover girl.
She obviously has the face and body to pass the preliminary test, but right now there isn't a hotter model that is more closely related to the sports world.
Upton recently received some press for her steamy Mercedes Benz Super Bowl commercial that was banned for its sexual nature (Per Fashionologie.com). Though it didn't air during the game, the video below has been watched countless times on YouTube.
It's possible Upton gained even more notoriety for being banned than she would have if the commercial had actually aired.
She also starred in two sexy 2K Sports ad campaigns for the MLB 2K video game. She was a part of MLB 2K's Perfect Club (a reference to the franchises' annual perfect game contest for fans) and the even racier ad called Finger Mechanics.
Should cover models for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue have some relation to sports?
It features sexual innuendo that is camouflaged by references to the grips on a baseball to throw certain pitches. The ads themselves were more impressive than the game, and served to further endear Upton to the young male sports fan—as if she needed any help.
The 5'10" model from St. Joseph, Mich. has also appeared in celebrity softball games (Sports Illustrated), and other sports related events. She's not just a pretty face, and ideally that's what the cover model for the issue should represent.
Obviously, it is about sex, and I rebuff any denial of the lust factor in the issue's appeal. But it creates a balance when the half-naked woman on the cover has at least been associated with sports at some point.
This element is what should separate the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue from a similar incarnation from Maxim or any other non-sports related magazine.
No woman is a better fit for the honor than Upton.