Fourteen years ago, on July 10, 1999, US Women's Soccer player Brandi Chastain penalty-kicked her way into history. In front of the largest crowd to ever see a women's sporting event (100,000+) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Chastain celebrated the her game-winning penalty shootout kick against China in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup final and her bra-baring celebration afterwards.
Never mind that among her achievements, Chastain has won two Women's World Cup championships, two Olympic gold medals, and an Olympic silver medal. This is the shot that defined her:
Her autobiography was titled "It's Not About the Bra."
Another big moment this week comes Friday, when ESPN The Magazine drops its annual ESPN The Body issue.
They tried to include everyone in this issue, with one notable exception. As the blogsite Jezebel notes:
"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."
A three-time Masters champion, Player is the oldest athlete to ever pose for the “Body Issue. That said, it's reported he keeps in great shape by doing 1,200 situps a day. He worked his way up from 1,000, according to the magazine's interview, as well as lying on a medicine ball, stretching, and working out with weights. In fact, he says,
"I exercise everything from my head to my toes every time I exercise: neck, shoulders, biceps, forearms, fingers, wrists, stomach, thighs, calves and feet. Most people my age, their feet ache, but I never have a twinge of pain because I've exercised my feet for years."
"My big dream now is to help people become healthy. Obesity, as far as I'm concerned, is the greatest problem facing the planet at the moment."
If you're an athlete, is it right for you bare your healthy, well-toned, lats and 12-pack abs in a venue like ESPN the Magazine? Sports Illustrated? Playboy? Playgirl? FHM? Maxim? Or for that matter, the U.S. Track and Field Association's annual calendar?
This year, Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky is pictured.
A couple of years ago, it was her teammate, Sylvia Fowles, pictured. I asked Margaret Stender, the former President of the Sky, what she thought about it. "I think it's great." she answered. "Why, I thought you hated stuff like that?" I said. "Because MEN pose for it, too. It's equal."
I agree. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Why isn't there a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue for the ESPNW crowd?
For years, I've tsk-tsked all forms of posing nude. I've written this column before, and it's gotten thousands of hits on a couple of different blogsites, but it seems that as many times I write it, the more questions arise....especially in the era of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I've also guest-lectured about it at Columbia College in Chicago, and Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Heights, and discussed it with friends, nieces, and nephews.
But I believe everything is worth a discussion. I spoke with Lesley Mann, the actress, earlier this year about her nude scenes in "This is 40." After awhile, she said, you get comfortable with yourself. And she has two teenage daughters.
Are things changing here? What happens when a woman or man takes off their clothes for big bucks and, sorry, EXPOSURE? After all, the human body is there for the download.
And if I can still do the 450 crunches I do today at age 77, which is still decades away for me....I'LL BE HAPPY TO DO as Gary Player did.
But only if my loved ones say it's okay.
And I ask...what are we thinking about the subject these days?
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