The question now, as Reece says, is how to grow the sport and what role sexuality should play in doing that. Rock, Reno and others identify more with the Title IX generation of women who had to fight for equality in the sports world and believe sexiness should be an afterthought. Many younger players, such as Reece and McPeak, are more inclined to market whatever is attractive. But rather than drawing a line in the sand, the two factions now seem willing to tolerate one another's excesses—such as players posing for sexy photo spreads—in pursuit of a common cause. Says Hanley, "Angela and I will have healed discussions about this, but we always come back to the final goal of selling the sport, and that's the truly important thing."
"Look," Reece says, "men's basketball has the great fortune that all the players have to do is go out and play and that's enough. Women's sports need something else to sell, and if that's women who are incredibly fit and attractive, so be it."
The convertible is charging ahead to the photo shoot, and Reece squints her eyes into the wind as she ducks down in the backseat. She applies mascara as she speaks, beginning a transformation as complete as the one Sanders treated her to eight years earlier. "There's this whole dichotomy of strength and beauty that we're playing on," Reece says as Hamilton pulls into a parking place at the beach. "The game is very balletic, and the beach players are evolved women. You get the feeling these women have a real defined sense of themselves. The athleticism overrides the sexuality, but then the athleticism makes them sexier. Women normally are looked at as objects, and the moment the object is functional, it becomes threatening—and that can be very sexual."
She smiles, punches Hamilton in the shoulder for effect and prepares to go frolic on the beach.