How is Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue still a thing?

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana has me revisiting an old rant.

The video mocking the swimsuit edition on “Last Week with John Oliver” and excerpts of my column:

I had thought about taking a pass on dumping on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition this year. Let someone else do it. There are plenty of people out there who object to the magazine’s annual lowering of its standards.

Then I saw a video from “Last Week with John Oliver.” The HBO show does a regular feature titled, “How is this still a thing?”

Last night, the target was SI’s swimsuit edition. As you would expect, the three-minute critique was funny and mocking of SI.

At one point, the narrator notes in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the prospect of seeing scantily-clad women in a sports magazine was “tantalizing.” Times, though, have changed.

“Do people not understand they can now just type ‘naked ladies’ into the Internet and see what Google throws at them?”

That line inspired a big laugh. Eventually, the narrator delivered this hammer: “Even SI knows (the swimsuit edition) is losing its relevance.”

Indeed, this year’s swimsuit edition made me feel sadder than usual.


Yet you could feel a sense of desperation with the cover of this year’s edition. It features Hannah Davis, also known as Derek Jeter’s girlfriend, pulling down the bottom of her bikini. Perhaps it was hot and she suffered from some chafing issues on the day of the shoot?

Let’s just say, another centimeter more and there would have been nothing left to the imagination. As it was, the cover was ripped for going too far.

Wrote Jennifer Weiner in The New York Times: “It’s shocking, and it’s meant to be. With hard-core pornography available to anyone with a laptop and a credit card, Sports Illustrated has to raise the stakes if it wants to stay relevant.”

SI obviously feels as if it has to push the envelope to keep the public interested in the swimsuit edition. As racy as the cover is, it doesn’t come close to matching some of the photos inside.

It seems like many of the women don’t like the idea of wearing the entire bikini. I counted so you didn’t have to: There are 32 photos of the women either without tops or see-through tops. I’m not even getting into thongs or the one of shot of a completely naked Kate Bock with the bikini sitting at her side.

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