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Getting Naked Again

Ian Watson's picture

Warwick Rowers Naked Calendar Supports Inclusion in Sport; Inspires Students to Create Sports Allies Outreach Program.

Meet the Warwick Rowers, a university rowing team from England.  It all started because their rowing club was broke. "When I started as novice it was standard to ducktape our feet into the boat because we couldn't afford the proper shoes".  They needed to do some fundraising to keep their rowing club above water (pardon the pun, couldn't help myself).

So in 2009 they decided to do a naked calendar.  Being rowers, they were all very fit, attractive young men; it's no surprise "it was really the gay market that was supporting the calendar and buying it, and in turn supporting the boat club".  Sales took off.  With sales in 77 countries earning the club the equivalent of about $360,000 cdn, the calendar earned the distinction of "Charity Calendar of the Year 2014". 

But the response was more than just money.  What started as a simple fundraising effort to buy the proper shoes resulted in the club receiving many messages of support from LGBT people around the world. For the first time, many of them felt like part of a wider community and some even found it helped them to come out to their family. 

This inspired the students to set up an outreach program, which has evolved into Sport Allies. The rowers commit to donate a percentage of their profits to Sport Allies, which makes up the majority of the organization's income.

Sport is a critical area for personal and social development.

Sport Allies is not about telling people they are homophobic, transphobic or not inclusive; it’s about educating everyone about the differences between people and acknowledging that acceptance isn't the same as inclusion. It’s not enough just to be accepting or even supportive of someone when they do come out, it’s important to create an environment where it’s easy for someone to do so.


To spread this message Sports Allies is setting up a national outreach programme in Brittan, working with universities, sports clubs, societies and secondary schools. This will involve the creation of an accreditation system for universities and sports clubs and working with them to facilitate their own outreach work in local schools. Sport is a critical area for personal and social development and the perfect platform for the message of inclusion.

So while this post may be motivated by an excuse to post nude photos of hot sports athletes, the important takeaway is that the sports world is changing.  These (assumably mostly straight) male athletes are not running away in shame once they learned their calendar was largely supported by gay men oggleing their fit naked bodies, instead they embraced it, and are standing up as allies for inclusion in sport. "Regardless of gender or sexuality we are inviting you into that moment with us".

Watch the new video.

But we may as well enjoy the photos too.

Do keep in mind, while all that is potrayed in their calendar and photo sets are white men, context must be remembered, this is a school that is not racist, but does find itself located in a predominately "white" area.  The lack of diversity of people of different races is not intentional, but merely a result of the school's location.

Photos and some information sourced from Instinct Magazine.
Other sources: Warwick Rowers & Sport Allies