SBD/October 4, 2013/Media

SI Cover Featuring Kate Upton With Braves Players Draws Some Negative Feedback

This week's SI cover previews the MLB Playoffs and features swimsuit model Kate Upton with Braves OFs B.J. and Justin Upton, but it has inspired some backlash on social media. FS1's Clay Travis tweeted, "Really appreciate Sports Illustrated reaching for the journalism stars with Kate Upton on the cover of this week's baseball playoff issue," while Sports Media Watch's Paulsen tweeted, "Glad to see Sports Illustrated continue its long tradition of featuring women on its cover. Real progressive stuff." The Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones noted, "Kate Upton has been on 3 SI covers (2 swimsuit) since 2012. NASCAR hasn't had a cover since Oct. 2011." SI Senior VP/Communications & Brand Development Scott Novak defended the cover, pointing to pop culture icons ranging from Bob Hope to Stephen Colbert that have made appearances on the magazine's cover. "This is fun and games. If the Braves win, this might just be the year of the Uptons," Novak said. "From the beginning, Sports Illustrated has had Academy Award winners, pop culture icons, governors, presidents, celebrities. You put a swimsuit model on the cover and that's a problem? I'm scratching my head."

MODEL BEHAVIOR? Last month at SBJ/SBD's Game Changers conference, former SI writer Selena Roberts criticized the magazine for focusing too much on models at the expense of women athletes. "When I was at Sports Illustrated, it's disappointing because there were not many women in leadership. It's no surprise that Sports Illustrated had more women on the covers in the 1950s and 1960s than they do now," she said. "The travesty of Sports Illustrated is that it has a rare opportunity to shape the agenda and to reflect society and it has chosen to revert back to what it was prior to the 1950s. That's unfortunate. You have such an iconic magazine that, ironically, is fueled by women. Nothing makes more money for them than women. It's women with bathing suits on. Women save the day at SI every single year. That's the great irony. Women fund the stories on men for the entire year."
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