The XX Factor

Has Sportscaster Erin Andrews Bimbo-fied Herself?

On Monday night, ABC announced the cast for the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars -and among the slew of not-so-shocking D-list celebrities (Kate Gosselin and Shannen Doherty) came one surprise: ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. It’s not that she can’t dance-Andrews, now 31, was on the basketball dance team at the University of Florida from 1997 to 2000, according to her official ESPN bio. It’s just that if there were ever a time for the resident hottie of sportscasting not put on a sequined push-up bra and do splits on national TV, this would seem to be it.

Eight months ago a video of a nude Andrews getting ready in her hotel room-taken by a perv now on trial-surfaced on the Internet, followed by still frames in the New York Post . Overnight, she turned from hardworking reporter to locker room pin-up, and told Oprah she was afraid her career was over. A year earlier, Andrews was publicly flogged by fellow sports journalists for wearing what was described as a “skimpy” dress when covering a Chicago Cubs game.

So why, now that the press isn’t critiquing her hemline and Google searches for the “peephole” video are starting to cool off, would Andrews decide to throw on spandex on national TV? The decision makes me suspect that Andrews is getting ready to launch into the sphere of celebrity, and that it’s becoming a greater draw than her journalism. Andrews is pretty and likeable; she was voted Playboy ’s Sexiest Sportscaster. And although she’s far from an investigative journalist, she has held her own as a sideline reporter-a job that requires that she be taken seriously because she is, by definition, a source of information. But fair or not, there’s a difference between Andrews joining the Dancing with the Stars cast and a male sports journalist doing the same. If “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons did the jitterbug, we’d laugh. He’d write something funny and self-deprecating about the experience. We’d laugh some more. The whole song-and-dance would be one big joke. But for Andrews, who will be dancing alongside the likes of Pamela Anderson and a member of the Pussycat Dolls , this could push her into bimbo territory.

What do you think: Career booster or professional suicide?