Sports Illustrated‘s official cover story this week is about the Baltimore Ravens, making the cover featuring Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez — and coach Rex Ryan‘s provocative quotation — officially an “alternate.”
Yet “alternate” doesn’t mean “less visible.” In fact, it’s that alternate cover that will land in most mailboxes and sit upon most newsstands across the country. People living in the east central coast will be taking home the “proper” cover, and readers in Ohio and Michigan are relegated to one starring Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Everyone else (i.e. most of the country) gets “Sweet Live Ass.”
If you saw any episodes from last season’s Hard Knocks on HBO, you know the word “ass” is both a versatile one in Ryan’s lexicon and the most tame among the list of words and phrases you don’t want your six-year-old using. And while it’s the first time the word has appeared on the cover, it’s not the first time it’s caused controversy about the United States’ flagship sports periodical:
So what will readers’ reactions be? This is pure speculation, but speculation that’s been gathered through a life of living in both major metropolitan areas and small farm towns: the media will make a far bigger deal of this than readers will.
After all, this is the same magazine that yearly produces an issue dedicated to nearly (and sometimes fully) nude women engaged in things that are not, by and large, sports. But that issue’s been tradition since 1964, and any arguments about it are tired and generally ignored by the media and readers alike. Subscribers are even offered the option of opting-out of the swimsuit issue, if they so choose.
For anyone who complains about the cover, but doesn’t opt-out, well, I’ll call you a hypocrite for thinking the word “ass” on public display is somehow more damaging to American culture than a yearly objectification of unnaturally-thin women’s bodies. That having been said, retailers (especially at supermarkers) have been known to use those goofy perforated plastic guards on the Swimsuit Issue, the same ones they do on Cosmopolitan and other similarly trashy women’s mags.