ESPN, We Want Sports, Not Nudes

By Michael Brown Published on June 27, 2018

It seemed innocent enough. I was being driven to the airport with a few minutes to kill and decided to check on World Cup scores on ESPN. I was not expecting to see a nude man in prominent display on the home page. Are you kidding me?

Yes, it’s time for the annual “Body Image” feature at ESPN, where famous athletes bare all to pose in risqué photos.

ESPN’s Body Image Feature

Of course, the poses do have the slightest modicum of modesty. The focus is supposed to be on athleticism, muscularity, and physique. And it’s true that, by definition, the images are not pornographic. At least not by today’s standards, where naked derrieres are not considered porn. Oh, for our wonderfully enlightened ways!

As for my experience today, I’m not sure which athlete was featured on ESPN’s home page. The moment the image popped up on my phone, I clicked on a different page. But whoever he was, he was naked. (For me, as a heterosexual male, it would have been worse if the image was female. Either way, it was not what I was expecting. At all.)

Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »

Yet somehow, this is now acceptable. No big deal. And on a sports page, no less. To object is to be puritanical, old-fashioned, and out of step with the times.

Well, consider me all of the above. Consider me puritanical, old-fashioned, and out of step with the times. I imagine I’m not alone.

It’s bad enough that porn is ubiquitous online.

It’s bad enough that news sites are littered with racy pictures (normally female).

But naked pictures prominently displayed on the home page of a sports website? Really?

As I recall, in years past, ESPN promoted their “Body Image” magazine, but you had to click on a headline to find out more. But in today’s almost-anything-goes climate, why not display everything right on the home page? This is something to be celebrated.

A Line We Need to Draw

I’m not sure if this is part of ESPN’s ongoing lurch to the left or this is more of a commentary on the spirit of the age. Either way, it’s not the direction I want to go.

Even if the images are not meant to be sensual. Even if they’re simply meant to celebrate human athleticism and fitness. There’s still a line we need to draw.

When it comes to ESPN, I’m fully aware that it is not Christian or biblical or conservative. But it’s supposed to be a sports page, isn’t it?

Otherwise, everything becomes acceptable. Otherwise, modesty becomes prudery. Otherwise, nudity becomes as normal as being clothed.

Last year, I was sent a link documenting the history of the bikini. There was a time when bathing suits like this were considered scandalous. Today, a bikini is almost modest. Is this really the direction we want to go? And, returning to the larger culture of the day, must we objectify women as sex objects on almost every single page online?

Like Swatting Flies

A major Christian internet publisher told me that he had to fight a constant battle to keep his website “clean,” since he allowed paid advertising on the site. It was like swatting flies, he said. Some advertisers always pushing the envelope. And this was a Christian site.

When it comes to ESPN, I’m fully aware that it is not Christian or biblical or conservative. But it’s supposed to be a sports page, isn’t it?

Millions of former ESPN viewers have decided not to watch the TV network anymore because it has become so politicized. But is the website itself now going to drive people away? Must everything be mixed with nudity or sensuality these days?

Go ahead and blast me. I’ll wear the “old-fashioned prude” label gladly.

I personally prefer sports websites where the emphasis is on sports. Am I the only one?

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Trilemma

    Nudity is old fashioned. Have you seen the Sistine Chapel?

    • As I was saying…

      What part of Michelangelo’s work is used to make people are mere objects for amusement as espn does?

      • Trilemma

        Tourists flock to the Sistine Chapel to see the artwork for amusement.

        • As I was saying…

          No, they come to the Vatican because it is the home of the Church.

  • John Connor

    Why is nudity so frowned upon? This is a display of some of the fittest people on earth. The human body is beautiful.

  • Andy6M

    Done tastefully nudity is a beautiful thing. It’s sad that our culture has gone so far down the pornographic road that any display becomes suspect.

    • Charles Burge

      I haven’t seen the photo in question, but nudity has been celebrated in art for centuries. I wonder if Dr. Brown objects to Michelangelo’s sculpture of King David. The question of what constitutes art and what constitutes pornography is as old as art and pornography themselves, but for me, I think it centers on intent. Is it intended to titillate and arouse, or it it intended to celebrate the wonderful creation of the human form?

      • As I was saying…

        Going by how you rationalize it alone, it is guaranteed to be perverse.

        As for pornography, that really did not become proliferated until certain billionaires looking to destroy the west began to fund it around 40-50 years ago.

    • As I was saying…

      It is suspect because both you and espn are treating people as an object.

      This is the capital sin of lust.

  • Paul

    “I personally prefer sports websites where the emphasis is on sports.”

    Them choose one, subscribe to support their efforts and move on.

    • As I was saying…

      But not before telling the truth about the bad ones.

      You seem anxious and personally offended, paul.

      • Paul

        Just presenting an actual solution within his power to resolve his problem. I highly doubt ESPN cares what some Christian writer thinks about their photography. They care about market share of viewers, website traffic, ad clicks, making money. Best way to get their attention is to support their competitor who has the focus and values he is seeking.

        • As I was saying…

          Going by how you speak of Christians, it seems you share the bigotry you project onto espn.

          • Paul

            I don’t know what you’re smoking but it is strong. Bigotry at ESPN? I could care less about whether they thrive or die. I could care less about the pro sports they cover. My point is if someone wants sports news and doesn’t like what is offer then move on to somewhere else. That is the beauty of capitalism, we’re not stuck with only PRAVDA.

          • As I was saying…

            We are stuck with pravda, it is just split over different corporations. capitalism was just the original testing ground for communism

  • porcupineman1454

    Hey, Dr. Brown, would you faint if I informed you that even YOU are naked under your clothes?

    Why such disgust over the natural human state? The pictures are not pornographic in nature. Your disgust is puritan and irritating. I’m no leftist by any means, but I think you need to calm down.

    • porcupineman1454

      I’m honored to have been featured in a poll on Dr. Brown’s Twitter page. I do question why he chose MY comment over any of the other ones here, but such is life. Nice to know he reads these, anyway.

      • Paul

        Did you participate in the poll?

        • porcupineman1454

          No.

      • As I was saying…

        Because it is a very good example of the phrase “a hit dog hollers.”

    • Irene Neuner

      Hey pornupine man. No normal, decent man wants to look at naked athletes displayed on a website. You are the one who has become digusting which is why you are disgusted.

      Your eyes, heart, and mind have been calloused with flesh displayed as meat and meaningful art under the guise of body image.

      Bikinis are bad for women, men, boys, girls and babies. To cover up only the bare minimum amount of flesh that should be reserved for the marriage is trashy. It’s like going to Walmart to find the product at the bare minimum price made from the cheapest materials and wages on the planet.

      • Trilemma

        Do you and your husband ever go to the beach?

        • As I was saying…

          Why are you so insecure over this topic?

          • Trilemma

            I’m not. Why are so many Christians insecure over this topic?

          • As I was saying…

            despair is the mortal sin where you think you absolve yourself because project your evil onto others.

          • Trilemma

            Where does the bible say despair is a mortal sin?

          • As I was saying…

            It’s the capital sin of pride.

            It’s also what pagans used to call “sacred violence.” That if you killed a witness to your crime, that would absolve you. I do recall Christ’s Cross dealt with that one.

          • Trilemma

            What does despair, which is the complete loss of hope, have to do with pride? Sacred violence is things like the crusades, the Catholic Church persecuting the Waldenses, or Islamic jihad. What do those things have to do with despair of those committing the violence?

          • As I was saying…

            sacred violence is the pagan idea that killing innocents will free guilty of responsibility. The same weapon of the devil the Cross destroyed.

            despair is the spirititual version of that. You believe you have usurped God with pride, so when you realize your pride is worthless because of your evil you then try to use your pagan nonsense to project your evil into others.

            You push that onto the Church here, bumping yourself up to committing blasphemy. The 3rd worst sin of all.

      • porcupineman1454

        Kay buddy. Would you like some fries with your reach?

    • As I was saying…

      Because you are using people for titiliation, as a stepping stone for some purpose. That is evil. You know this is evil because you have a diabolic reaction in the face of a very innocent request by Dr Brown.

      The puritains were gnostics and therefore shared your religion of “nothing matters.”

      • Ken Abbott

        Please elaborate on your claim that the Puritans were gnostics.

        • As I was saying…

          The word puritain means “pure ones.”

          Their theology and practices are gnostic.

          • Ken Abbott

            “Puritan” was an epithet settled on a group of 16th-century English Protestants by their ecclesiastical opponents because they sought a more thoroughgoing reform of the English church that neither Elizabeth nor the contemporary Anglican establishment wanted to see. As is often the case with these things, they wore the label as a badge of honor, making it their own. They were some of the most godly and learned people ever to walk the earth. The church has been much enriched by their contributions to theology and practical Christian living.

            Persons trying to understand gnosticism are handicapped by the slipperiness of the term–it never had one tight definition. Nevertheless, adherents of gnosticism usually denigrate the physical in favor of the spiritual (“matter bad, spirit good”) and insist on varying degrees of special or esoteric knowledge that only a privileged few may have. None of that was characteristic of English Puritanism or their American descendants. So I still struggle to understand your terming them or their beliefs as “gnostic.”

          • As I was saying…

            The puritans chose their name because all gnostic groups use the name “pure ones” when they are honest about what their devil worshipping allegiance is. Like “cathar” and “freemason” and whatever other gnostic sect you belong to.

            As with all devil worshippers, the puritains believed all material things were evil and must be destroyed. They also believed nothing you did mattered because of this, especially in regards to their desperate practicing of the capital sin of lust.

          • Ken Abbott

            I’m not sure from what source you’re deriving your information, but you need better sources. Your description is nothing like what the English Puritans actually were. This is so far off the mark it’s risible. May I suggest works by Martyn Lloyd-Jones or J. I. Packer?

          • As I was saying…

            No you may not. Feel free to get your information from Hillare Belloc or Chesterton or any other English Catholic who remembers the persecution that cromwell and his “pure ones” did against Catholics before leaving in fear of reprisal.

      • porcupineman1454

        There’s not much titillating for me about naked men. It’s interesting to see the totally-perfected human form, for sure.

        • As I was saying…

          You just contradicted yourself

          • porcupineman1454

            Nope, I didn’t, unless you’ve never cracked a dictionary. “Titillating” suggests sexual/salacious enjoyment.

          • As I was saying…

            You are trying to use pictures of naked men for your (and I quote) “interest.”

          • porcupineman1454

            Kay.

  • Trilemma

    Nude athletes isn’t new. In ancient Greece, it was a norm for athletes to exercise and compete in the nude.

    • As I was saying…

      You are rationalizing quite a bit here in this comment section. All inbetween trying to explain elsewhere why Christians must be compulsed to support abominations.

      • Trilemma

        What exactly am I rationalizing? I’m merely pointing out that public nudity has been around for thousands of years.

        • As I was saying…

          You are trying to hide your shame by excusing it. Your desperation and repeated messages proves that it does not work.

    • Ken Abbott

      Yes. Those activities were conducted in sex-segregated environments. No women were permitted to attend the ancient Olympic Games.

      • Trilemma

        How unfortunate for the women. Did Christians attend those Olympics? Did Christians compete in those Olympics? Did Paul consider such competition a shameful act of men with men as in Roman’s 1:27 since it was associated with paganism?

  • Margaret Jaeger

    Nudity itself is not a scandal but it’s the misuse of the nude human to be presented in a salacious way that’s abhorrent. It invites the buying and selling of nude bodies as a sexual object. Extremely disrespectful to the image of human beings. However,,those presented in Some art subjects aren’t disrespectful. Some art is presented as salacious to an Nth degree with selling sex clearly the subject. Some famous as collections as erotic art. Others as displays of violence and violent times. Even pictures of hell has nudes, but their tone is different than selling the body as just for sexual use only. What one feels personally when looking at nude’s pictures Is what sex sellers depend on. It’s prostitution in paperback form. True art has another theme in mind when presenting nudes that seems non sexual,,just a picture of what is or a happening.

  • Benita G Duff

    No you are not alone.

  • JP

    This stuff leads to more porn and lust. Porn and lust can lead to affairs, degrading of women, STD’s and the killing of babies.

Inspiration
Easter Is Only One Chapter of God’s Story
Hugh Whelchel
More from The Stream
Connect with Us