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Sports Authority

Zuba: Sports Illustrated drops the ball

| Tuesday, August 26, 2014

If you looked at Sports Illustrated’s homepage Tuesday morning, you saw a layout dominated by football photos, for obvious reasons. Oh, and a woman in a swimsuit because obviously — wait, because why?

She’s Amanda Cerny, Sports Illustrated “Lovely Lady of the Day.” Under the “Hot Clicks” label, you can find a gallery of 12 photos of her in an assortment of sexy outfits and poses because why take Coke out of a vending machine like a normal person when it can be a sensual act?

I’m a woman. I have no problem with women showing off their bodies. What I do have an issue with is the fact that a model in a swimsuit is the most prominently featured woman on Sports Illustrated’s website.

There was a picture of Venus Williams further down the page and one of Maria Sharapova in action even closer to the bottom. It’s a sports website and the athletic women are at the bottom. But don’t worry, your eye candy is at the top.

If there was a shot of Williams or Sharapova’s skirt flying up a little higher, would that have bumped them up the page?

The fact that a hot model takes precedence over female athletes on a sports website is a sign of disrespect to female athletes who deserve recognition on those pages.

I understand that men are the primary consumers of sports news. But is “because men” a good enough reason to feature a hot woman on Sports Illustrated’s homepage? There are other magazines and websites if all you’re looking for is a picture of an attractive woman.

The recurring “Lovely Lady” bit is more than a little bit tacky. The little yellow tag that says “Hot Clicks” above the picture coupled with the scantily-clad woman out of place on a page full of athletes makes it look like a third-party sidebar, one of those “attractive singles in your area” things that pop up when all you want to do is scroll through your Facebook newsfeed.

I respect Sports Illustrated. But I just don’t see how the “Lovely Lady” is necessary. It sends subtle but unsavory messages about women.

It reinforces the idea that women are the sex meant to be ogled. Where is the “Hot Dude of the Day”? Apparently, men are above that — they do things. Athletic things.

Making the “Lovely Lady” the first woman viewers see on the website says that women sometimes do athletic things, but the fact that we get to stare at their beautiful bodies is just as important as all that, if not more so.

If young female athletes see the Sports Illustrated layout, they see that the athletes who look like them — the women — are relegated to second-class status. Second not only to male athletes but also to women famous simply for being beautiful. That’s not a message that should ever be sent.

The WNBA playoffs are going on right now. If one argues that the WNBA playoffs aren’t front page news, I would say that if there’s room on the homepage for a large photo of a gorgeous model, there’s room for a story about the women’s basketball postseason.

No offense intended to Cerny. She truly is beautiful, “lovely,” as Sports Illustrated as classified her. But the place for her is not as the featured woman on a sports website. Put an athlete there. A female athlete. In one of the photos of Cerny, she’s posing with a soccer ball. There’s a place for that. It’s called Maxim.

If you want a picture of a woman with a soccer ball, call Abby Wambach or Alex Morgan.

One would think a sports site, of all places, could convey how dynamic women are, that we are much more than objects.

Who’s ready to tell me I must be an ugly feminist in the online comments? I know you’re out there. And you’ve missed the point.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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