1980s vs. Today: SI swimsuit issue   

Updated: June 5, 2008, 12:45 PM ET

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The 1980s vs. Today
Was the sports world better back in the 1980s? Or are we better off today? Page 2 has the answers, specifically looking at …

Weinreb: Comparing/contrasting cheating in the '80s versus today

The ballpark experience
The sports media
The SI swimsuit issue
Sports video games
Superstar athletes
Dynasties
Fantasy games
Uniforms
Endorsements
Activism
Lakers vs. Celtics

1980s
A nation gawked. School librarians harrumphed. And me? I looked forward to the "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit issue the way Internet nerds eagerly await leaked Decepticon scale-model pics from the set of "Transformers 2." This was a big deal (largely because I was just hitting puberty). A really big deal (mostly because I would not interact with an actual real-life semi-naked woman for years to come). A mark-the-calendar, check-the-mail, sit-through-27-minutes-of-"Entertainment Tonight"-teases-until-they-finally-show-the-"making-of-the-issue"-clip big deal. (This changed dramatically when a buddy figured out the Playboy Channel descrambling trick.)

Pros: Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Paulina Porizkova. Oh, babes of yore! In my mind, you'll forever be frolicking on the beaches of Maui. Zowie!

Cons: Models wore genuine swimsuits -- semi-sensible one-piece suits, even! -- as opposed to bikinis made of South American coins and strategically-placed palm fronds. Also, too many (read: anything more than zero) annoying athlete profiles and game summaries. What is this supposed to be, a sports magazine?

Christie Brinkley

Warner Bros/Fotos International/Getty Images

Christie Brinkley was the star of many a swimsuit issue.

Today
Bigger, splashier and waaaay more commercial (and yes, such a thing is possible), chock-full of celebrity guest-model photo shoots, ads made to look like photo shoots, and the occasional smidgen of Roger Clemens' chest hair.

Pros: Clichéd, unintentionally humorous outraged letters to the editor remain a staple (and ought to be compiled into a book); greater model ethnic diversity; smaller/nonexistent bikinis; tedious sports stories split off into separate issue; two words: body paint.

Cons: Utterly devoid of original ideas -- another all-sand bikini? Pushin' the envelope! -- for whatever that's worth; did we mention Clemens?

VERDICT: Viva the '80s. Maybe -- probably -- it's just gauzy nostalgia, but the old-school swimsuit issue felt like a genuine cultural event, whereas the current iteration feels … tired. Played out. Like a living fossil -- or perhaps a shambling cheesecake zombie, slouching toward irrelevance, propelled by past momentum and sheer advertising want-to. Blame Maxim magazine. Blame Maxim's 1,001 imitators. Blame Google search. In the here and now, the swimsuit issue is just another face in the scantily clad crowd. Did I grow up? Sure. But so did the world around me.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Patrick here.


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2008 NBA FINALS


And then there were two -- the Lakers and Celtics. Who will win the NBA Finals? Let the games begin.

Finals schedule | Playoff bracket | Playoff home

Daily Dime

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• Scouts Inc.: Game 6 breakdown
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• Adande: Greatness eluding Phil and Kobe
• MacMullan: Doc adheres to dad's lessons
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• Adande: KG dominates Gasol again
• Hollinger: Rivers makes all the right moves
• Hill: Kobe's Laker legacy on the line
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• Jackson: Leading role suits Pierce
• Adande: Kobe turns away from the pass late
• Stein: Pierce's knee key to rest of series
• Finals factor 1: Kobe Bryant
• Finals factor 2: Celtics Defense
• Finals factor 3: Paul Pierce
• Finals factor 4: Home-court advantage
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• Broussard: Turning back the clock Insider
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TrueHoop

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Simmons

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ESPN The Magazine

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Fantasy

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Audio Audio

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• Jon Barry credits Tom Thibodeau's team defense
• Game 4 reactions
• Rajon Rondo on Pierce, Game 2 plans
• Bill Walton on Celtics-Lakers history
• Dr. J on Finals, '80s hoops