ESPN The Magazine is preparing to release its fifth annual Body Issue, and there are several surprising choices among those elected to bear it all.
Some of the more interesting selections come from sports that don't traditionally come to mind as having a plethora of pique-conditioned athletes. Another more specific outlier comes from the NBA, where one star point guard seems not as viable as several of his peers who haven't appeared in the issue before.
The requirement to pose nude for this issue can make some candidates uncomfortable enough not to do it, so that has to be accounted for in some regard.
In any event, let's take a look at the most surprising entries into the 2013 edition of The Body Issue, which hits newsstands on July 12.
Note: Information on Body Issue is courtesy of ESPN.
Courtney Force, Funny Car drag racer
The daughter of the legendary John Force is in a unique branch of the sports industry unfamiliar to casual observers.
Courtney Force is the youngest of the four Force siblings, but the 25-year-old is making her own impact felt in drag racing. NAPA Auto Parts NHRA Nitro Funny Car driver Ron Capps posted one of the Body Issue pictures of Force, and praised her for having the fortitude to do it:
Capps respects Force's accomplishments on the track, too. Force was the 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year, and beat her father just weeks ago at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals. John Force is a 15-time world champion in funny car, but his daughter is 4-2 against him now.
Posing for the magazine wasn't easy, but Courtney Force explained why she ultimately decided to do it, per Terry Blount of ESPN.com:
I definitely was nervous about it, and I still am. But I think it's a way to show how hard we train as race car drivers and how much we work out. And I wanted to show it's OK to embrace your body. I'm not perfect, but I do what I can to make my body strong to be the best I can be in the sport
Apparently funny car drivers do work out a lot to prepare themselves for the intense, pulse-pounding thrill ride that lasts seconds long. Now Force's frame will be immortalized in the ESPN The Magazine archives, proving that indeed, fit funny car drivers do exist.
Gary Player, Professional golfer
Even at 77 years old, the career Grand Slam champion and nine-time major winner manages to stay in optimum shape.
Player told the Wall Street Journal's Jen Murphy back in 2011 that he does 1,000 push-ups and sit-ups every morning. He also noted how he was squatting 325 pounds the night before he won his first and only U.S. Open in 1965.
The South African is among the greatest ambassadors in golf history, and he was a trend-setter and far ahead of his time by placing an emphasis on fitness.
Apparently Player has upped his game as the years have worn on in terms of sit-ups. The magazine's editor-in-chief Chad Millman also documented a hilarious quote from the golf Hall of Famer that will appear in the impending issue:
Similarly to Force, Player was uncertain about posing for The Body Issue initially, then eventually warmed up to the idea:
After a lifetime dedicated to health & fitness I’m chuffed to be in @ESPNmag's Body Issue to hopefully inspire others to workout & live well— Gary Player (@garyplayer) June 25, 2013
I was at first hesitant, but @ESPNmag's Body Issue celebrates the human body. No matter what your age, we should all look after ourselves!— Gary Player (@garyplayer) June 25, 2013
The most surprising element of Player's appearance in the issue is not so much how he looks, but rather how he's found the motivation to continue a strict regimen at this point in his life.
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
Who is the most surprising athlete in this year's Body Issue?
It's no knock on Wall as an athlete, because along with Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, he's among the most nightmarish point guard in the NBA to deal with in the open court.
However, if the magazine were attempting to showcase an impressive physical specimen from the pro basketball ranks, it's surprising that Wall was the choice.
At 6'4" and 195 pounds, Wall definitely sports a minimal amount of body fat, but he's also not the most muscular player in the league by any stretch. Perhaps a leaner, toned look is what ESPN was going for, but the past players should prove to be far more impressive.
In the past, it's been all big men—Dwight Howard, Amar'e Stoudemire, Blake Griffin and Tyson Chandler. This change-up could be utilized to showcase how people of average height pale in comparison to even the smallest players on an NBA court.
Wall is a former No. 1 overall pick, too, but doesn't have quite the pedigree as some other possible candidates might. The Wizards haven't made the playoffs in his three years there, though D.C. hoops does look to be on the uptick.