ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue has become a publishing rite of summer and this year 23 male and female athletes are featured, including openly gay Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy and cover athletes Caroline Wozniacki (tennis) and Ezekiel Elliott (NFL).
"Oh, my God, what did I sign up for? I have to get naked right now?" Kenworthy says in the preview video. Given that we’ve already seen Kenworthy in his underwear, I doubt it took much coaxing to get him to take all of his clothes off.
The early publicity for the issue that lands next week has featured the impressive butt of Chicago Cubs star Javier Baez.
Speaking of butts, women got equal time. Here’s Wozniacki:
Caroline Wozniacki is ready for Wimbledon … and the cover of ESPN’s ninth annual Body Issue. pic.twitter.com/MjpJFCmESE— ESPN (@espn) June 27, 2017
As for Elliott, if it was up to him, he’d do without a jersey if he could.
“I was pretty young when I first got the six-pack, maybe 10 or 11,” he tells the magazine. “Since I was younger, I've never really liked to wear shirts. And I still don't like to wear shirts, so, I mean, you'll find me with my shirt off a lot.”
You can now add "cover boy" to Zeke's resume. pic.twitter.com/DSS8r0Jzef— ESPN (@espn) June 26, 2017
The Elliott cover posted on Twitter got a lot of “ewww” comments from guys, which prompted this email from a reader named Greg:
Reading some of the comments on this tweet makes me wonder what set off all of the "straight" guys who are loudly barking like mad dogs about having seen naked MALE athletes. Have they never played sports, never been in a locker room?
Is it internalized homophobia? Do they hate that they find the body of a male athlete attractive? Or is it the fact that all of the guys who have been selected so far this year for the ESPN Body Issue are men of color? Or both? Did they somehow manage to merge their homophobia and racism into a compounded self-defeat?
Joining Elliott, Kenworthy, Wozniacki and Baez in the issue are:
—Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots
—Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics
—San Jose Sharks teammates Brent Burns and Joe Thornton
—Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and his wife, Julie Ertz, of the U.S. women's soccer team
—Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks
—-Brianna Decker, Kacey Bellamy, Meghan Duggan, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Alex Rigsby of the U.S. women's hockey team.
—pro softball player A.J. Andrews
—New Zealand All Blacks center Malakai Fekitoa
—Olympic bronze-medal-winning figure skater Ashley Wagner
—MMA fighter Michelle Waterson
—adaptive snowboarder/mountaineer and retired Marine Corps sergeant Kirstie Ennis
—Olympic track and field medalist Novlene Williams-Mills of Jamaica, who is the first breast cancer survivor to appear in the issue.