Pop Rocks: More Like Hannah "Tetons," Am I Right?

Sports Illustrated's annual Swimsuit Issue hit newsstands this week. The cover features model Brooklyn Decker, also known as "Mrs. Andy Roddick." That's far from the only athlete connection in this year's issue, however, as several U.S. Olympians (skiers Lindsey Vonn and Lacy Schnoor and snowboarders Hannah Teter and Clair Bidez) are also featured sporting significantly less than the usual jackets and boots.

Vonn is the only one of the scantily-clad Oympians considered a favorite to win any medals (downhill and super G), and has already courted faux controversy thanks to her pose on the cover of SI's Olympics preview. Neither she nor the others are exactly breaking any taboos, of course. Last year's issue showcased three female tennis players in...seasonal attire, and other athletes have stripped down to the equivalent of their unmentionable for this and other magazines.

Whether Vonn's cover is overly sexualized, as some have argued, it's not exactly out of the norm for Sports Illustrated. Women's sports get much less coverage than men's and SI reflects -- and helps reinforce -- that reality. To make the cover, a female athlete often must be attractive as well as talented. The same can't be said for the guys (just telling it like it is, Tony Siragusa fans). Not wanting to look discriminatory, SI has also included athletes' wives, girlfriends, and -- in the latest issue anyway -- whoever a particular athlete was partnered with on Dancing With the Stars.

So is any of this really a big deal?

I mean, I personally think it's a bit of a shame that athletes who are arguably the best in their sport (like Vonn) feel like they need to show a little T&A to heighten their profile, or whatever. Then again, these are professional adults; they're not being Roofied at the bus station and strung out on smack like porn actresses. If Teter and Schnoor want to put a little coin in their pocket by making middle-aged guys pitch a tent (presumably the only ones still getting their jollies from something as delightfully archaic as the Swimsuit Issue), where's the harm?

I suppose you could argue such actions tend to trivialize a female athlete's future performance (I'm thinking of Danica Patrick's omnipresent GoDaddy commercials). Then again, at least in Patrick's case, you could also argue the future isn't all that bright ot begin with. One thing is certain, it's time to level the playing field.

At Pop Rocks, we're all about equality in humiliation. That's why I propose that all athletes, male or female, should be required to strip down for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot as soon as they turn pro. And I'm not talking about those wimpy pics that male athletes have taken where they're shirtless: shirtless is for pansies. When I say "strip down," I mean bra and panties (for women) and thong underwear (or body paint) for men. Let's get some ass cheeks out there and leave nothing to the imagination pelvically. Fair's fair, goddamnit.

I plan to take this bold crusade to the people. Only then can we achieve near-nude equilibrium and put an end to the tyranny of print magazines.

Or it might just get me committed. Either way, at least I'll be out of the house.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar