When you pick up the 2014 SI swimsuit issue tomorrow, remember it’s tradition of excellence; and t & a. It’s “Barely Legal” with spring training coverage. Oh wait, it’s all swimsuits now. No sports at all. In fact the 2014 SI swimsuit issue is probably the only reason they even publish in print at all in 2014.
The notion of a weekly, in this day and age, is long dead. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if SI goes online only, and except for the SI swimsuit issue, in the next couple years.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue was an institution in the early 1990s, taking off in the 1980s with Christie Brinkley and Paulina Porizkova each gracing the cover three times. But when young men my age hit puberty in the early 1990s, with the internet’s vast resources of masturbation fodder not available yet, us 14 year old boys circled two dates on the calendar- the issue hitting newstands (do “newsstands” even exist today) and the one hour “SI swimsuit issue making off” special on television.
And we didn’t didn’t have DVRs yet!
Back in the day we had big names like the famous triumverate cover of Kathy Ireland, Elle Macpherson, and Rachel Hunter. Then there was Judit Masco, Ashley Montana, Tyra Banks, Stacy Williams and Daniela Pestova. Today, there is a new generation of rookies coming up like Michelle Vawer, Nina Agdal, Jessica Perez and Crystal Renn.
The SI swimsuit issue generates advertising that, in 2005 amounted to US$35 million in value. Today it accounts for 7% of Sports Illustrated’s annual revenue. Generating 7% from just one issue is pretty stellar when you consider the competition they face in lad mags like Maxim and ESPN’s Body Issue; which like the SI swimsuit issue is just oh so close to having to appear in plastic and behind the counter when it’s displayed on magazine racks.
We all know that nothing moves the needle like sex and controversy. And last year’s cover model, Kate Upton seems to have inspired a backlash. The first back-to-back cover model since Tyra Banks since 1997. Now there are people who are in my camp, who believe Kate Upton is just perfect the way she is and the hottest woman alive.
And then there are the visually challenged/just plain wrong who say stuff like this:
She’s not “fat” as in, I’d see her on the beach and immediately pick her out of the crowd as being morbidly obese. She is, however, HORRIBLY proportioned and frankly, too fat/out of shape to be modeling swimsuits. She’s about as curvy as my refrigerator. Her face is genuinely pretty, but 8/10 girls I went to school with had better bodies. The fact that she’s so popular says a whole lot about her audience. With the majority of people overweight/obese these days, they’re looking for an outlet with which to justify their fat lazy asses. Unfortunately, her star status doesn’t make the population any less fat or unattractive. Sorry guys.
Upton is the Michael Jordan of the supermodel/swimsuit game right now. Everything after that is debatable.
And there’s more controversy in the 2014 SI swimsuit issue with having Barbie on the cover. Incredibly dumb idea, so SI scrapped it.
Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent analyst on news talk radio; with regular segments on ESPN,NBC, CBS and Fox. A former NBC Chicago and Washington Times writer, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)