If you’ re any sort of women’s soccer fan, you know about Alex Morgan.
The 22-year-old wunderkind, known as the “Super Sub” during the Women’s World Cup last summer and in the recent CONCACAF Olympic qualifying matches, comes off the bench with a nose for the goal. One of the USA’s fastest players and hardest runners, Morgan has scored seven times in her first 16 caps. The former Cal soccer star has also been noted for her amazing mix of strength and beauty which makes her the epitome of Pretty Tough.
Morgan, who is one of three females athletes to appear in the 2012 Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit issue which hits newsstands on Valentine’s Day, will be part of the popular “bodypaint” feature. Yes, that means she’ll be wearing nothing at all, save for paint.
“Initially I was a little nervous, but this opportunity doesn’t come everyday,” Morgan told SI.com about the gig. “I wanted to involve my family with my decision and it helped that they were very supportive.”
Known for her audacity on the pitch, Morgan was asked, “What was more intimidating: posing in bodypaint or taking on Japan in the World Cup finals?
“I have been playing soccer my entire life. I know how to stay calm and not get too nervous for games. That’s why I would have to say posing in body paint was a little more intimidating,” Morgan told SI.com. “It was a completely new experience and definitely took some getting used to before I felt comfortable in body paint. I had to look in the mirror every five minutes to make sure I actually had a swimsuit on.”
Clearly, Morgan’s appearance in SI is a play for the fanboys who love to blog about how hot the soccer starlet is. But will the decision to pose nearly naked affect her image in any way? USWNT teammate Hope Solo essentially posed nude in last year’s ESPN Body Issue and it didn’t seem to hurt her. The Body Issue, however, was co-ed at least and made a pretense to be more a celebration of sports physiology than a compilation of centerfolds.
For those wondering, The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue debuted in 1964 as a five page supplement meant to increase readership during the winter sports lull after the Super Bowl. The very first cover featured a model in a conservative, non-revealing bikini but by the 90’s, the models started wearing less and less. The cover of this year’s issue, whose circulation is expected to be around 60 million, will be unveiled on CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman Monday night.
The SI swimsuit issue story doesn’t generally have anything to do with sports or sports journalism so I guess it’s a nice change to see an athlete featured. And while it’s refreshing to see healthy images of athletic women rather than their gaunt supermodel counterparts, it’s doubtful that SI’s decision to feature Morgan was meant to be progressive in any way.
What do you think?
Will Morgan generate as much interest in her sport with her swimsuit appearance as she did for women’s soccer a year ago in Germany? Probably. Will the national exposure (yes we mean exposure) finally put women’s soccer on the map? Probably not. Will we see Morgan cast as a competitor on “Dancing with the Stars?” Have to wait and see.
In the meantime, Morgan and her signature pink headband are expected to appear this summer at the Olympic Games in London where she’ll try to help the U.S. women to their third consecutive gold medal. The USWNT has also added two more games to their busy schedule leading up to the Olympics, taking on reigning World Cup Champion Japan and the always difficult Brazil in early April. For those of us missing the WPS this year (the league recently announced they were suspending play) the WNT is a ray of light.
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