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|| News Item: Posted 2000-08-28

Leading Off: Politics, Breasts and the Best Sports City in America

By Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Robert Hanashiro
A few random musings before leaving for Sydney in a few days.

Hauling gear for several blocks, people wearing funny hats, standing around for hours on concrete, your ears pounding after several hours of listening to 18,000 screaming fans, out of control freaks getting pepper-prayed outside the arena and tight deadlines.

Yet another NBA playoff game? Naaaa. Just another night at a weeklong paid political ad called the Democratic National Convention.

It's not what it was in the 40's and 50's...heck it's not close to what it was in '68. But covering political conventions still gives me that tingle of excitement. What appears boring on television (as countless people have told me the past week) is TOTALLY different in person in the convention hall.

Lengthy fist pounding-finger-wagging-fist-pumping orations by Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, yes even President Bill Clinton, gave me a charge.

Just as my 10th Super Bowl and 10th NBA Finals have.

Sports Illustrated should be used to it. Every February they get a mountain of letters complaining about the swimsuit issue. But when I opened my August 14 issue and saw a double truck photo of Olympic swimmer Jenny Thompson sans top, just her hands covering her breasts I knew the bitching would be quick and loud.

Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated

Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated
(Wasn't it just a few months ago SI's Heinz Kluetmeier caught a lot of grief after defending the magazine's swimsuit issue at a photojournalism conference?)

USA TODAY columnist (and a good friend of mine) Christine Brennen chimed in "What's troubling about this trend is that there seems to be a warped attitude among some female athletes that it's not only proper to take off your clothes for a picture, it's actually liberating. To them, it has become a kind of hyper-feminist act: Now that they've made it, they can take it all off."

She's right, sort of.

But what I think we lose sight of here, like the Brandi Chastain bra incident, this is just an athlete trying to draw attention to her sport and herself.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Let's face it, women's sports, especially swimming (which nobody cares about unless it's an Olympic year), are pretty faint on the marketing and public awareness radar screen.

Take the WNBA pleasssse!

Offering another tact, nobody screamed sexism, exploitation or poor taste when Annie Leibovitz has an athlete or celeb take off their top for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. (Heck, she has two pages of Carl Lewis' ASS sticking out of a G-string for god's sake in her 1996 book "Olympians" which I saw the other day in the cutout section of my local Borders for $1.99.)

Sports, yes even the Olympics, is all about marketing and money. Grabbing the attention of readers of SI with a provocative photograph goes in line with the economics and mentality of sports.

This isn't brain surgery. It isn't rocket science. It's just sports.

And after all, who would you rather see with their top off, a swimmer like Jenny Thompson or Rebecca Lobo?

(Please send your letters and e-mails of complaint to Heinz or Steve Fine.)

A couple of weeks ago The Sporting News had a cover story touting St. Louis as the "Best Sports City in America."

While it's hard to imagine a town that doesn't have an NBA team, has no college hoops or football to speak of as the best sports city in America, I offer up a totally subjective list of my own.

So here is Sports Shooters "Best (And Worst) Sports Cities in America":

Photo by
BASEBALL: Yes, I will concede that St. Louis is the best baseball city. They have the tradition, knowledgeable and non-abusive fans, a huge star (Mark McGwire), a great ball park (not only to watch a game as a fan, but work out of as a photographer) and a wonderful steakhouse nearby (Dierdorf and Hart's).

The WORST baseball city in America is Los Angeles. They have the most fickle and unknowledgeable fans (who also arrive late and leave early), a ballpark with diminishing photo positions (ruined by the new Fox regime), no decent restaurants nearby and an overpaid, under achieving roster.

BASKETBALL: Without a doubt Indianapolis. After working there a week during last June's NBA Finals, I can honestly say that Conseco Fieldhouse is THE best arena to watch a game and work a game as a photographer. The fans are great, the arena personnel friendly and helpful and there's plenty of cheap parking nearby. What else can a Sports Shooter ask for? (And yes, there are several great steakhouses nearby.)

The WORST basketball city in America LA! Where else do you have fans paying thousands of dollars for courtside seats just so THEY can be seen rather than so they can watch a game? Plus if you're not careful, some mob might turn over your car in a parking lot you had to pay $25 for and set it on fire while dancing on top of it.

FOOTBALL: Having never been to Green Bay, personally I would have to say Denver is the best football city. Again, they have knowledgeable fans, two recent Super Bowl championships, tradition, an owner who doesn't wander the sidelines in dresses too short for their age and a great steakhouse nearby (the Denver Chophouse).

The worst? You guessed it, LA! What other friggin' city lost two NFL franchises in the one year? 'Nuff said.

* * *

A few "house keeping" items:

As always, after this issue goes out to the primary mailing list, it is posted on the archive web site hosted by Brad Mangin Photography. To check out this and previous issues, go to: and follow the links to Sports Shooter. As always, Brad has assembled many photographs to accompany this month's articles, including a few images shot on the new Canon D30.

Please check out the Sports Shooter Forum, which is hosted by I will have posted a few topics from this issue for readers to comment on. You can access all of the Forums at:

And finally, next month's issue is still up in the air. I, along with many of the Sports Shooter contributors, will be in Sydney for the Summer Olympics through October. Because of the hectic nature of covering a Summer Olympics I am not certain I will be able to assemble enough material for an issue. However, it has been suggested that I write something about what's going on in Sydney. If you're interested in something like thatdispatches from the Olympics please post your thoughts in the appropriate section of the Sports Shooter Forum.

* * *

This month's issue of Sports Shooter features an interesting and humorous article by Karl Mondon on his recent journey to cover the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. We also have a more detailed users report than what I posted on Rob Galbraith's digi-news site on Canon's new D30. Rod Mar also checks in from Seattle, the Bagman and Mongo are in the house and we have a lot of Olympic information for those going to Sydney. Anne Ryan also writes about her recent career change. And, as always, much, much more!

So sit back, adjust the contrast on your monitor, set the VCR to tape the "Iron Chef" and enjoy Sports Shooter v.23.

Robert Hanashiro
Sports Shooter

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