Movie Details

This made-for-cable documentary traces the intimate relationship between professional athletics and sexuality over the past century. From the use of sex appeal in the marketing of sports to the private lives of athletes both straight (legendary womanizer Wilt Chamberlain) and gay (Billie Jean King, whose career was derailed by a lesbian palimony suit), the film looks at sexuality as both a commercial aspect of sports in general and a personal issue for the athletes themselves. Former Laker Girl and pop star Paula Abdul discusses the ascension of cheerleading to a national passion after the advent of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, while tennis legend Martina Navratilova gives a feminist perspective on the success of young sexpot Anna Kournikova. Archival footage and new interviews with everyone from boxer Sugar Ray Leonard to Sports magazine editor Dick Schaap are interspersed with commentary and actor Liev Schreiber's narration. Playing the Field: Sports and Sex in America premiered December 20, 2000, on HBO as part of the network's "Sports of the 20th Century" series. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi