Apparently ESPN is redefining manhood. The company has such a hold on dudes, according to the Times, that sometimes they prefer consuming its media to having sex, making it an alleged form of recessionary birth control. An integral part of this captivation is ESPN fashion, and — much like the model- and body image-obsessed fashion buffs — the figures wearing that fashion.
Perhaps because of that, ESPN has an unmistakable obsession with the male body, clothed and unclothed. “The proper man dresses properly” is the prevailing message of the parade of handmade suits, wide-knotted ties and multi-carat bling. Every one of the dozen men I spoke to at ESPN headquarters here described in detail his wardrobe philosophy, from Armani sweaters to high-collared shirts to the ultimate sports accessory, “the ring.”
Michelle Beadle, who co-hosts Sports Nation, says, "When athletes come in to do interviews, it’s like a fashion show." While women like her who work at the channel may be in the minority, they may not be in the minority when it comes to the "infatuation" with what's going on underneath athletes' clothes.
The height of the new jock vanity is ESPN’s infatuation with male bodies. Commentators drool over other men’s abs, thighs and guns. ESPN The Magazine’s response to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is its Body issue, which features entirely naked men (and some women). The magazine even sells posters of the Knick superstar Amar’e Stoudemire dunking nude or the United States soccer goalie Tim Howard diving au naturel.
“It’s sort of like ‘Dieux du Stade’ in France,” Mr. Shales said, referring to a French rugby team’s collections of revealing photos, “where athletes don’t find it feminizing to pose almost naked in pictures. The athletes legitimize male preening. It’s so masculine it’s almost feminine.”
Now we know that if you're the kind of person who watches football games and only sees either visions of your next hot toddy or the glass on the television screen or the tight pants or the arm muscles or the thigh muscles or the other muscles, we can now confirm that you're not watching this stuff the wrong way entirely. Super Bowl, here we come. (Well, maybe.)
Dominating the Man Cave [NYT]