Sports occupy a sacred place in our hearts, and professional athletes a unique compartment in American society. So each year when ESPN The Magazine releases an issue featuring unclothed athletes in all their bold glory, the heightened interest is to be expected. From lithe to brawny, ESPN's 2015 Body Issue covers have been unveiled online, along with all 24 athletes featured in the magazine.
The cover stars on the ESPN Body Issue this year are Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper, Olympians Amanda Bingson and Chantae McMillan, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin and New York Giants' Odell Beckham, Jr. Newly-crowned World Cup champion Ali Krieger is also featured in the issue. Since the Body Issue's debut in 2009, it has become perhaps ESPN's most highly anticipated annual issue, celebrating the chiseled, diverse bodies of our favorite athletes.
"Our goal is to continue to evolve the issue year after year," the ESPN magazine and website editor-in-chief Chad Millman said, as reported by the New York Daily News. "The ability to capture both the strength and vulnerability of these extraordinary athletes through such powerful images and introspective interviews is incredibly moving."
Here are the some of the SLIGHTLY NSFW photos of athletes featured in this year's Body Issue: