“All too often, sports magazines gravitated towards sexualizing or feminizing the athletes believing that readers would not consume women’s basketball coverage unless the players were portrayed in non-active poses,” according to this Forbes article.

ESPN The Magazine‘s current issue celebrates the WNBA’s 20th anniversary and honors the women on the cover as they should be – professional basketball players. As its editor-in-chief, Alison Overholt, explains, “Women are always portrayed in lifestyle scenarios, and actually the subversive thing to do is to show female athletes as athletes. We had an extensive conversation about how crucial it was and how important it was to shoot them, in a way that was authentic, strong and powerful, and exploring all the dimensions of them as athletes.”

Overholt hopes that the progressive cover reveals a new generation and a new day for women in sports, and by presenting the women as athletes, it already has.

For more coverage, be sure to pick up the WNBA20 issue on newsstands now. All imagery photographed by Dylan Coulter at ROOT.