Replacing Athleticism With Sexuality: Athlete Models in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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This study was intended to provide analysis of print-media portrayals of athletes in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues from 1997 through 2009. Drawing on the theoretical framework from Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity (2005), the authors performed a content analysis of photographic images (N = 141) and associated captions in athlete-related content in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. Two major issues emerged from the content analysis: gender differences and sexualized images in athlete content. Findings of this study indicated that Sports Illustrated alternates athleticism with sexuality by continuously placing athlete models in positions that are unrelated to sport. In addition, the female athletes were extremely sexualized. These findings support the concept of hegemonic masculinity at work in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues.

Kim and Walker are graduate students, and Sagas, their advisor, in the Dept. of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management, the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

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