The questions are probably rhetorical, but just in case someone is looking for answers, here they are: 1) Nothing, and 2) Elsewhere.
The SI swimsuit issue is a girlie magazine that happens, through a weird series of events, to be branded under the banner of a sports magazine. If the seed had been planted today—if in 2013 the editors said to Jule Campbell, “February is pretty slow for sports, let’s put a pretty girl on the cover”—I don’t think it would have turned into the swimsuit issue as we know it.
It might have become ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue” instead.
There’s definitely titillation involved in ESPN. They make no effort to cover up the fact that these are drool-worthy bodies. But they’re all athletes, and they’re representative of both sexes and all ages. It’s genuine sports-mag cheesecake.
I’d say it’s a noble undertaking. I think it dodges a lot of the complaints that are commonly aimed at SI while de-vilifying the enjoyment of an attractive body.
Will SI ever follow suit? I doubt it. Sure, athletes have posed with their wives, and Bar has posed with athletes.
But demanding the regular appearance of male models in the swimsuit issue is like bursting into a florists’ and demanding to know why they don’t sell Big Macs. It’s just not what they do.
PS: Like the Body Issue but miss the naked women in paint? Well, Fiat bridges the gap for you.