He Said/She Said: Amanda Beard Nude in Playboy. Good or Bad?

By John Lohn and Dana Lawrence Lohn

CRANBURY, New Jersey, May 4. TODAY marks the first installment of a He Said/She Said feature that will periodically appear on SwimmingWorldMagazine.com. Since we met through swimming, leading to a January wedding earlier this year, we figured this would be the right place to reveal our thoughts on various topics.

It just happened that our first topic, triggered by its newsworthy nature, resulted in a shared opinion. Nonetheless, you're going to get a male and female viewpoint on Amanda Beard appearing on the cover of July's issue of Playboy Magazine. In the future, there will be times when we hold similar stances, but it'll be far more likely that we'll disagree on issues related to the sport. It's not Dana's fault that she's wrong a lot. That's just the way it is. (After saying that, I'm hoping to avoid the couch tonight). Anyway, keep an eye out for the He Said/She Said feature. We promise to be lively.

So, without further ado, here's our initial piece on Beard and her Playboy decision. It is still being determined whether there will be a nude pictorial inside, or simply a pictorial that is revealing. So, for now, we're going with the thought process that a nude Amanda Beard will appear in Playboy, as that possibility has become the main subject in the sport over the last few days.

He Said

There she will be, for all to see. Soon, the first gift Amanda Beard was given, her body, will be on display in the world's leading men's magazine: Playboy. Yes, in July, the three-time Olympian, a champion swimmer and sex symbol, appears as if she will bare all. Her impending appearance on the cover of Playboy was confirmed Wednesday by her agent, Evan Morgenstein of Premier Sports Management.

In case anyone forgot, swimmers' bodies are on display more than in any other sport. Sure, suits cover up some flesh during competition, but Beard has worked hard to sculpt her body into – in some ways – a work of art. And, whether you want to believe it or not, one of Playboy Magazine's aims is to present the body as a beautiful thing. I'm sure there are some shaking their heads right now, laughing at the notion that Playboy can be viewed as art.

For all her accomplishments in the pool, Beard has drawn a great deal of attention to the sport through her various modeling and magazine shoots. When she appears on the Playboy cover, there's no doubt that swimming will receive another shot in the arm in terms of publicity. Now, there will be a faction out there that says, "Not this way. This isn't how swimming should grow." Well, get over it.

Swimming in this country will never rival the Big Three – football, baseball and basketball. And, no matter how many world records or Olympic gold medals are won by Michael Phelps, he's going to need a hand in raising the sport's profile. So, if showing off a body that has endured countless hours of training can be helpful, go for it. Simply put, sex sells. And, in this instance, it can sell swimming.

From the time she broke onto the Olympic stage as a 14-year-old in 1996, Beard has contributed a great deal to American swimming, raising its profile. She has positioned herself to take advantage of her talents and good looks, and no one should begrudge her for benefiting financially. Beard also deserves the benefit of the doubt that her photo shoot will be tastefully done.

Amanda Beard is no longer the little kid who smiled wide-eyed at the Atlanta Olympics with a stuffed animal in tow. She's a woman, a beautiful female in her mid-20s who has excelled as an athlete and has been blessed with a magnificent body that she also has worked hard to maintain in peak shape. She's entitled to make adult decisions and, if she's comfortable enough to show her body to the world, that's her choice. Rather than the swimming community getting up in arms over how it may be a negative, it should embrace the attention that will result.

She Said

Let's be frank: It's not about the swimming. When a goddess like Amanda Beard smiles at a convenience-store passerby from the cover of the July issue of Playboy, the women's breaststroke will not be first and foremost in the minds of most Playboy readers (pun intended).

This opportunity will give Beard, already quite high-profile for her combination of attractiveness and athleticism, more explosive exposure than ever before – not a bad decision for a woman who envisions a possible career in broadcasting. Playboy will publish and circulate more than four million copies of this issue. In terms relative to the sport, that's almost twenty times as many Playboy issues as there were total fans who attended the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne. While exact figures are not known, Beard's decision to pose also surely comes with generous financial incentives. Given the right combination of motivators, one can hardly question her decision to bare all.

So how, we might wonder, might Beard's decision impact the sport? In the pro column:

**When this issue hits the stands, swimming may get attention on sports-related talk shows to rival that given to Michael Phelps' medals chase in Melbourne. For a sport that is too often ignored in favor of pigskins and knuckleballs, the publicity is more than welcome.

**The magazine might prompt a bit of traffic in your open swim lane. Beard visibly proves – from head to toe – that swimming can sculpt an absolutely magnificent body. She may motivate some Playboy readers to break out their swimsuits and head to the YMCA in their own pursuit of physical perfection.

**Never discount the "cool factor." Calling out to young swimmers everywhere who devote hours every day to improving their times in a sport that their friends may not fully understand or appreciate: "Hey, Amanda Beard is a swimmer, too. She's beautiful, and they were talking about her on TV … that's cool, and it's cool that you swim, too."

The cons, naturally, are more evident and more profound. Those who disapprove of pornography will frown on her choice, fearing that it will cheapen the sport and send the wrong message to young swimmers, perhaps their own children. Some might argue that the female body deserves to be held more sacred than sexualized. And many might wistfully wish that the sport itself, in its purest beauty – man against the clock – could capture the spotlight and the human imagination as readily as Beard, bared.

Let's be confident that a very beautiful Amanda Beard will tastefully reflect the publicity she gets back onto the sport of swimming.

Comments Off

Author: Archive Team

Current Swimming World Issue


Trouble Viewing on Smart Phones, Tablets or iPads? Click Here