Thursday, February 02, 2006

One year in the early 90s, the bookstore of the university that I was attending decided to put the Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated behind the counter. I don't know whether news of this ever made it past the campus borders but I remember that the student newspaper had a field day with the story. It was generally thought that the idea was very silly as there is nothing obscene about women in bikinis. After the public outcry, the bookstore put the magazine back on the rack.

Now I didn't and still don't agree with the stunt, but I think I understand why the bookstore did what it did. I don't think it was a protest against obscenity but instead it was a complaint against context. What do bikini-clad women have to do with sports? Spectator sport puns aside, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue tells us that SI is a magazine for men only and by extention, sports is for men only. I remember trying to explain this to a classmate. "What would it tell us if Time Magazine had a swimsuit issue? What would that mean?"

(Now I have changed what I think. Now I think what the SI Swimsuit issue illustrates that our mass media is driven by advertising demographics. Advertising creates inherent pressures to create not only shows but entire channels of programming that separate men from women, blacks from whites, and young and old etc.)

I thought of the SI issue again as I walked past Cheetah's in downtown Windsor. Most of the signs were welcoming Superbowl fans and one sign read: ESPN Live 3-5 pm. It would appear that some show from ESPN is broadcasting from a strip club - although I haven't been able to confirm this. If its true, then I would be disheartened. While I'm no fan of football or the Superbowl, I do like watching other sports (soccer, hockey) on TV. Heck, I used to be an athlete. And besides that, its been so good to see something positive in the city of Detroit and I'm not against an excuse to have a good party.

But when I see a sports show being broadcast in a strip club, I can't help but feel that I'm not invited to the party.

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