Long Live The Playboy: Hugh Hefner Changed The Way We View Sports

News of Playboy founder and larger than life personality Hugh Hefner’s death was a sad reminder that the ultimate playboy was no match for the inevitable. For a man that has been defying odds for decades anything seemed possible. His party lifestyle led him to the amazing age of 91; he seemed forever young to most of us.

Mr. Hefner started in his Chicago apartment sixty years ago on changing the way we viewed the girl next door. Using inspiration from the pin up Girls of WW II; Hefner ultimately broke America out of its Victorian mindset and into a cultural revolution that led to even more cultural revolutions.

Seeing sex in everyday life is something we at this point take for granted; the sultriness of an advertisement or a picture from someone on Twitter is all we need to find ourselves clicking one more time. This is all said without going into the billion dollar online porn industry.

Hugh’s free approach to life instilled the idea that success is surrounding yourself with beautiful women, scantily clad became the new clad, and the desire of most American men, and in short order, all over the world.

It wasn’t long until the sports world caught on.

The Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s were the first to add cheerleaders in barley there apparel. Gorgeous girls dressed in team colors and leading the crowds in cheers became popular and normal. So much so that a similar uniform is worn by cheerleaders in every sport, from grade school to the pros. Hefner’s visions strewn across the country, and of course the world, for right or for wrong.

Of course, it’s difficult to talk about cheerleaders without mention of the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. The Lakers girls maybe did it best with similar halftime shows and time out shows popping up all over the NBA shortly after. These girls weren’t just beautiful, but multi-talented dancers with complex choreography. Some of them went on to more than just grace the courts but grace MTV. Paula Abdul being one of the most famous and well liked.

Sports Illustrated borrowed Hugh’s vision for their forever famous swimsuit issue. Young adults across the country signed up for Sports Illustrated for the amazing magazine that gave access like nothing else at the time. Personal interviews, history lessons, and game breakdown was littered throughout each magazine. But everyone knew that once a year that glorious swimsuit issue was going to arrive, the talk of the block for whatever kid ended up with it, young eyes crowded around a treehouse gawking in amazement.

Where the truest form of Hefner’s vision seemed to intertwine with sports was the invention of ESPN’s The Body Issue. Somehow blurring the lines between sexuality and specimen was possible. Looking at the chiseled physiques of some of the world’s best athletes was eye opening before arousing. The work, dedication, diet, and drive was proven with these revealing photos. Without Hugh, this may never have been possible.


Hefner’s contribution to the world spanned from cultural revolution to cultural revolt. Some people were ready to put a stop to Playboy, what it did, and what it stood for. Playboy stopped putting full nudes in their magazine not too long ago, only to retract it sometime after. Whether you believe what Hefner did with Playboy was revolution or revolt material, it can’t be denied that he impacted American culture forever.

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