The moment you've been waiting for all month has finally arrived. And, no, I'm not talking about the NBA free-agency picture coalescing or the impending World Cup Final. I speak of the yearly tradition known as ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue hitting newsstands.
Sure, OK, you've already seen the entire pictorial. The Internet has a way of being three or four days ahead of print media (#zinger). But there is something nostalgic about getting your hands on the hard copy and flipping through the pages of nude athletes like when we were all kids.
Sorry, that came out wrong. Umm, OK, there is something nostalgic about getting your hands on the filmy paper, licking your thumb to turn the pages like our forefathers and flipping through pages of nude athletes like our parents used to do when they were kids.
OK, this just isn't going to work. Let's move on.
In all seriousness, the release of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue is a pretty cool event on the calendar. It's in the middle of the summer, gets conversation going about a struggling industry and is a truly unique release. Unlike Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition, which features a few athletes but mostly supermodels in swimwear, the Body Issue is notable because it's ALL athletes—ones of different shapes, sizes and recognition levels.
Want to see Prince Fielder and Venus Williams in the same issue? Have at it. Never heard of Jimmy Spithill? Now you have. The magazine, above all else, has been consistent in its commitment to giving a wide array of athletes and both sexes an opportunity to shine. It's admirable—while at the same time being smartly opportunistic about culture's never-ending fixation with, um, people parts.
Anyway, enough of my hot taking on the subject. Let's take a look at some of the latest quotes sent out by ESPN from their latest round of promotion. And be sure to elbow your way through the non-paying looky-loos and actually pick up a copy of this year's Body Issue on newsstands.
What They're Saying
Quotes via Morty Ain of ESPN The Magazine unless otherwise specified
Rangers First Baseman Prince Fielder on the Perception That "Bigger" Guys Cannot Be Athletes:
You don't have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. A lot of people probably think I'm not athletic or don't even try to work out or whatever, but I do. Just because you're big doesn't mean you can't be an athlete. And just because you work out doesn't mean you're going to have a 12-pack. I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I'm not going up there trying to be a fitness model.
Paralympian Amy Purdy, Who Lost Both of Her Legs at Age 19 After Contracting Meningitis, About Feeling Comfortable and Confident in Her Body:
What I love about my body, especially right now, is just how strong it is. I've felt that contrast of it being as weak and vulnerable as it could be. When I was in the hospital and I lost my legs—to go from that to feeling stronger than ever, and knowing the strength of my body has been what's gotten me to where I'm at today, as far as the Paralympics and "Dancing With the Stars" goes—I'm so proud of how healthy I am.
Surfer Coco Ho on the Way Social Media Has Affected Surfing Coverage and Body Image:
Since social media has become so big, body image has taken a downward spiral. Especially in surfing, because we're in bikinis all day, we're really critiqued. After a competition, social media will just be talking about who looked better in a bikini instead of who surfed better. It's not even about the results anymore, so much is body. And that's really frustrating at times.
Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps on How His Body Changed During His Short "Retirement":
Oh, I was fat. I got fat and out of shape. It was hard because I had always eaten whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. I would always be like, "All right, I'll go work out," and I would never ever go. Sure enough, 25 pounds later, I was still saying the same thing. That was just part of my learning process.
Women's Hockey Player Hilary Knight on the Perception Women Can't Be Feminine and Muscular:
I had this idea that muscular isn't feminine. There is this image of athletic women as small and petite—the yoga body type. Women in general, we tend to shrink ourselves and not have as much confidence as we should in presenting ourselves and our body types. It's OK to be fit and healthy and comfortable within your body, whatever frame you have. Since gaining 15 pounds to be at the top of my sport [for the Olympics], I've tried to shatter the body image that muscular isn't feminine.
What the Internet Is Saying
As many were throughout the week, Grantland's Molly Lambert complimented the Body Issue for its equality—a characteristic not always displayed within the industry:
I love the ESPN Body Issue, because they give equal playing time to men and women and it's always fantastic— Molly Lambert (@mollylambert) June 24, 2014
ABC's Robin Roberts commended Purdy, who appeared this week on Good Morning America:
Fielder's pictorial had the Internet buzzing, as is typical when someone with a non-typical body type chooses to display themselves nude (see: Girls' Lena Dunham). Russ Bengtson of Complex pointed out that the people writing about Fielder and others might be throwing stones in their glass houses:
ESPN needs to do a blogger version of the Body Issue. You think Prince Fielder's bad?— Russ Bengtson (@russbengtson) July 8, 2014
Former MLB pitcher C.J. Nitkowski didn't seem as enthused by Fielder's spread invading his Twitter feed:
That thing where Twitter gives you a preview of tweeted photos is cool, except on ESPN The Body Issue day. No more Prince skin please.— CJ Nitkowski (@CJNitkowski) July 9, 2014
Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer, meanwhile, has had enough of Fielder talk. He already has the best possible idea to have copies flying off the shelves:
What do you say, Nick Saban, Les Miles? How about next year, it's an all-SEC coaches version of the Body Issue?
No? Another bad idea?
OK, I'll just get out of here while the getting is good.