SI swimsuit issue: tradition. controversy. boobies

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Editor’s Note: this SI swimsuit issue related essay is being re-run from a year ago: it’s cool though. Everything in still applies a year later! 

When you pick up the 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.

Then again, words are boring. Reading hurts. Here. Look at some more pictures.

You have Hannah Davis, Emily Ratajkowski, Natasha Bernard, Kate Bock.

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.

So the 2014 SI swimsuit issue will be a huge financial boost!


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.


Fat? She was voted the 3rd most desirable woman alive  Have they seen her Cosmo cover? and her GQ behind the scenes video shoot

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, operates and writes The Sports, which is partnered with Fox Sports Digital, eBay, Google News and CBS Interactive Inc. You can read Banks’ feature stories in the Chicago Tribune RedEye newspaper and listen to him on KOZN 1620 The Zone. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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