Everyone — black, white, Latin, young, old, pregnant, man, woman — is naked in the 2013 ESPN Body Issue.
It must be said: Progress has been made. The first Body Issue in 2009 featured tennis champ Serena Williams naked on one cover, but alternate covers that same year pictured male athletes either partially clothed or just showing off their chests — not same level of nudity as a topless woman. While Serena Williams and triathlete Sarah Reinertsen were completely naked, NFL star Adrian Peterson's thighs were covered, and both NBA star Dwight Howard and NASCAR racer Carl Edwards were shot from the waist up. (MMA powerhouse Gina Carano was topless but wearing short shorts.)
The 2010 Body Issue featured even more female nudity; WNBA star Diana Taurasi was on one cover; another featured the USA Women's Water Polo Team posing nude and asscheek to asscheek. A really weird shot that didn't seem to be sexy (the Body Issue is basically trying to compete with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, after all) or about the graceful architecture of an athlete's form. That said, there were naked men! A digitally-castrated Amar’e Stoudemire, weirdly flexible golfer Camilo Villegas, and footballer Tim Howard (coughHOTcough).
This year, there's a fairly diverse array of folks in the buff. There are eight different covers — four men and four women.
Beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings was photographed naked before and after childbirth.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, at rest and in motion.
Motocross racer Tarah Gieger is on one of the covers, doing things a doctor might not recommend.
Sydney Leroux, a forward on the US national soccer team, shows off impressive legs on another cover.
77-year-old golfer Gary Player also landed a cover.
It's a pretty diverse group, in terms of kinds of sports, race and gender, although worth noting that although there's a 77-year-old man, the oldest woman is 34-year-old Kerri Walsh Jennings; it would have been nice to see an older female athlete. (May we suggest 75-year-old body builder Ernestine Shepherd?) In addition, the best images are the ones that capture the sheer strength, agility of these athletes (naked rockclimbing???). Unfortunately, a few of the ladies are photographed sitting in passive, static come-hither poses that don't play up their athletic abilities at all. Still, a good effort by the ESPN magazine editors.
See the full gallery of nudie pix here.