The Elite Swimsuit Edition

Last weekend I had lunch with my mom.

These visits tend to take a rather ritualistic form. We each drive an hour to meet in the middle (usually at our favorite mall South Coast Plaza), we have lunch and my mom brings me random things she thinks I need, like socks.

This visit, she brought me a piece of Americana- the Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition. 

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What else is February for?

Now, clearly I’m not exactly the demographic that this magazine appeals to, but I do love sports and my family has a subscription to Sports Illustrated, so the swimsuit edition is just part of the package. I have an open mind- female empowerment, own your body and that type of thing. OK.

So I took a look through the magazine. Christie Brinkley with the center spread- yeah she looks good, but why? Model, model, model, are there any athletes in this issue at all? Hannah Jeter- does she count as an athlete now that she tamed Derek Jeter?

On page 84, I finally come across some actual athletes- Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Simone Biles. And I promptly wished that this issue actually was just full of professional models.

The spread with the two of them was a little shocking, to say the least. Aly Raisman looks like she is trying to remind the world that she’s a grown woman who goes on dates with football players as she posed topless and in other rather indecent poses. Simone Biles just looks plain uncomfortable. I feel you Simone, I am uncomfortable as well.

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This is not what was in SI

Reason number one I am uncomfortable- I still think of these gymnasts as kids.

Obviously, Raisman and Biles are both technically adults now, Raisman slightly more so at age 22. Yet, the thing about gymnastics is that you watch the sport as these athletes are growing up. Many gymnasts hit their peak performance between ages 16-18. The Olympic qualifying age is 16, and gymnasts are often left disappointed when they qualify on skill but do not make the age cut-off. Elite junior gymnastics ranges from ages 11-15, and from there gymnasts can turn elite and make the national team at 16. From the age of 11, gymnasts can be under media scrutiny if they are really good. Personally, I don’t want to see someone I watched maneuver through their adolescent years do a spread in a magazine that is only a slightly more covered version of Playboy.

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So young, so innocent

Simone Biles is 19 years old. She’s old enough to make her own decisions, vote, live by herself, etc. But she’s also been a superior competitor her whole life. Her life has been consumed by schedules and competitions. In turning pro, she is also consumed by endorsements and sponsors. 19 years old is still very young. I would not have been ready for any of this when I was 19. At 19, I was still bringing home my laundry and calling my mom to cry about how creepy boys can be (I still bring home my laundry and boys are still creepy). I imagine Simone led an even more sheltered life, consumed by training and competition. Is she really ready to be in the swimsuit edition? I can only hope Biles has a support system to tell her she doesn’t need to accept every media deal that comes her way and she doesn’t need to sell her body to stay relevant. She’s already gone down as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Reason number two I am uncomfortable- has anyone read the news about the major gymnastics sex scandal going on?

Now, this spread would probably have made me uncomfortable either way, but it is in just very poor taste to do a spread as provocative as this one amongst the allegations of sexual abuse in USA gymnastics.

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I really hope they didn’t know

For those of you who might not know, several national gymnasts have come forward about alleged sexual abuse at the hands of a team doctor. Furthermore, the courts just released 5,600 pages of documents that detail how USA gymnastics did not properly ban coaches convicted of sexual abuse. If true, these allegations reveal decades of sexual abuse. As mentioned above, these gymnasts are competing at the elite level from the age of 11. They go through puberty with their team and coaches. It should be a safe space for them, but that appears to have been taken away.

The Sports Illustrated spread just feels like incredibly bad timing. I’m sure when the photos were taken the scandal hadn’t escalated to what it is now, but SI had plenty of time to pull those photos when the allegations were made public in December of 2016. Would it have cost them money? Sure. Would it have been the right thing to do? Absolutely.

I am a gymnastics fan and I have a ton of respect for both Aly Raisman and Simone Biles. However, I don’t think this spread was the right move for their public image or for Sports Illustrated’s.

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Bracketology

I hope everyone has started filling out their brackets because it’s that time of year again.

That time when you hope the stars will align, the heavens will open up and the gods will guide your hand with divine intervention for the chance to win $1 million dollars.

I am of course referring to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show bracket challenge.

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And you thought March Madness was the only “bracket”

What’s that? You didn’t realize that the elite Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be taking place this coming Monday and Tuesday? Cancel your Valentine’s Day plans now because you are not going to want to miss the finals of the most prestigious dog show in the world.

But wait. You’re not sure how to go about filling out your Purina Pro sponsored bracket?

Well, lucky for you Andy Roddick is willing to help.

Yep, you heard me (or, rather, read me) correctly. Retired pro-tennis player, three-time Wimbledon champion, one-time U.S. Open champion, future Hall of Famer, Andy Roddick has shared his personal Westminster Kennel Club bracket with the public.

Roddick has finished his work for the week. He has chosen the miniature poodle to go all the way. Now he can sit back and watch the show with his own pups, Bob Costas and Billie Jean (I know every Roddick fan and sports fan just swooned at those names).

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The winner as predicted by Andy Roddick

I hope the Westminster Kennel Club paid Andy a lot of money to give that endorsement. Is retirement that boring that a dog show, ok, the dog show, is what’s occupying his time as of late? Roddick has apparently come a long way since his days of throwing his racket and storming off the court. Some critics would say Roddick threw in the towel when he retired in 2012. He simply gave up. Roddick turned his back on the courts at the age of thirty, after a season plagued by uncharacteristic losses. He retired ranked thirty-ninth in the world, the lowest he had ever been ranked since turning pro in 2000. By many accounts, Roddick left the game in defeat.

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Roddick bidding adieu

Since retiring, Roddick has kept a fairly low profile. He did a brief stint as a co-host on Fox Sports Live, but left the show in 2015. Since then, his wife, super-model Brooklyn Decker, has given birth to their first son and the couple continues to live in Austin, TX. Roddick is also apparently an avid dog-lover.

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If this picture doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will

The inevitable question comes to mind- is Andy Roddick that hard up that he needs a joint endorsement with dog food? Since Decker continues to work steadily and Roddick is being inducted to the Tennis Hall of Fame this year, I would venture to guess no. He’s just a man who loves his dog (or loves getting paid to love his dog). But, if you’re a female ( or a male, I don’t judge) or a tennis fan (as I am), the endorsement might just work. I may set my DVR to record the Westminster Dog Show this year. If it’s good enough for Andy and his dogs, why shouldn’t it be good enough for me?