Photo: Jason Kempin /Getty Images
We watch sports for the thrill, excitement, and passion we feel for our favourite teams.But let’s face it: Sex appeal is a huge part of which athletes and sports we end up following.
Bottom-tier athletes can become stars on the sheer force of their sexiness, and star players can become crossover celebrities with enough good looks.
So who are the sexiest athletes alive?
We chose 50 men and women from across the sports landscape who are astonishingly good looking and still relevant to their sports. They are sexy because of their abs, smiles, eyes, hair, pecs, and biceps, but also because of their dance moves, fashion choices, and bubbly senses of humour.
They each have a unique brand of sexiness that grabbed the attention of the public and helped them become more popular than they would have ever been.
US Women's National Soccer Team
She's one of the more polarising female athletes in sports, and is prone to confrontations with the media. But she doesn't get that status without the sex appeal that -- combined with her goaltending in the 2011 World Cup -- made her a mainstream star in the first place.
Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world; that alone makes him sexy. On top of being fast, he's super confident and looks great wearing a bow tie and aviators.
'Vika' is probably the most outgoing player in women's tennis. She danced and partied with the guy from LMFAO at the US Open.
She's also six-feet tall and has a killer body to go with her bubbly personality.
Jeremy Lin went to Harvard AND he plays in the NBA. Not only is the guy athletic, he's smart and intellectual.
Lin is also really funny and down to earth. When he first moved to NYC he slept on teammates' couches before he could settle down.
New York Giants
Victor Cruz has moves.
When Cruz catches a touchdown pass -- which is often -- he shows off his salsa moves, and they are sexy. Cruz also bought his mum a house with his Super Bowl winnings -- awww.
Sally crushed Lolo Jones like a bug in the hurdles at the Olympics.
The blonde-haired Aussie is one of the more likeable athletes we've come across, and she doesn't have an ounce of fat on her body.
Green Bay Packers
It's hard not to be considered sexy when you're the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.
On top of that, he was AL MVP and a Super Bowl Champ in 2011. Rodgers also can rock a mustache and still look cool.
US men's track and field
You don't win a gold medal in the decathlon unless you're a ridiculously fit all-around athlete, and that's what Eaton is.
The guy is absolutely ripped, and has the full tall, dark, and handsome thing going on.
Italian beach volleyball player
Marta looks like a model and she plays a sport that requires its athletes to wear bikinis.
She was reduced to tears at the last Olympics, but she's still young and should be in her prime by the 2016 Games.
Kevin Love is one of the funniest guys in the NBA. Love was an absolute must Twitter follow during the Olympics because he was always tweeting great photos of himself and the team.
He's the kind of sexy guy you'd want to bring home to mum and dad.
Harper is super confident, he's good and he knows it. And he's only 20 so he has many more years to get even sexier.
US Men's National Soccer Team
Tim Howard is one of the best soccer goalies in the world and he also has one of the best sets of abs we've ever seen.
US Women's National Soccer Team
Rapinoe has a signature shock of blonde hair and a high-wattage smile. She's also one of the highest-profile openly gay athletes in American sports.
She has a totally exotic and unique look that makes her different from most of the other athletes on this list.
A lot of people can't stand Jay Cutler because he's kind of a jerk, but that's exactly why we find him sexy. Cutler isn't a jerk. He's just himself. He doesn't put on a show for the world, and that's what's really sexy.
She had one of her best years ever in 2012, finishing in the top 10 in three of the four majors.
She's probably one of the most well-known female golfers in the world, not because she's so dominant, but because of her good looks and off-the-course fashion choices.
LeBron James is the new king of basketball. On top of that he's funny, a great dad, and has an incredible body.
C.J. Wilson is sexy because he speaks his mind. Wilson is outspoken about his political and social beliefs. He also has an incredibly beautiful girlfriend, and is a great photographer.
U.S. Women's basketball
Parker has supermodel height and an amazing body.
She plays a sport that requires power and muscle, but she still has a soft sexiness about her.
Yohan Blake won a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics and is the youngest sprinter to ever break the 10 second mark on the 100-meter dash.
His biceps are also the size of most people's calves.
British track and field athlete
Ennis gave us one of the coolest moments of the Olympics by winning the heptathlon on her home track.
She also has an unreal body and an adorable smile.
Humphries is good-looking in a very male-model, Taylor Lautner sort of way.
He may not be the most liked athlete in the world, but you can't deny the looks that lured in a Kardashian.
Cesc has all the dark features going -- hair, eyes, skin tone. He also rocks the five-o'clock shadow.
He might not be very well known in the States, but he's a heartthrob overseas.
Vonn has taken a photoshoot in a bikini on the top of a snowy mountain, and found herself in Tim Tebow dating rumours.
She's also the best female skier in the world, winning four of the last five World Cups.
Wade is one of the most stylish guys in the NBA, and fights on the front lines of the NBA's fashion wars.
He also has a great smile and a sculpted body.
Ivanovic has been one of the most beautiful athletes in the world since she burst onto the scene after winning the 2008 French Open.
She hasn't won a Grand Slam since, but her model good-looks have landed her in magazines like Vogue and SI's Swimsuit Issue.
New England Patriots
Welker has all the five-o'clock shadow you could ever need. He has a gruff look that flies in the face of his well-manicured QB, Tom Brady.
Iker is the goalie for the best national team in the world (Spain) and one of the best club teams in the world (Real Madrid).
He's also a favourite of female soccer fans who like the buttoned-up, boy-next-door look.
Wozniacki's tennis game dipped in the past year, but her off-court star has never been brighter.
She now sells her own underwear line, and she's dating the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world.
The guy is cut from stone. He's one of the most ripped players in the NFL and has a defined jaw-line to go with it.
Fed is blessed with an overwhelming sense of suaveness. Even on the tennis court he carries himself like a man wearing a finely tailored suit.
The deep-set eyes help as well.
Rice's sex appeal became a story in-and-of itself before the 2012 Olympics. She was slammed by the media for posting a picture of herself in a tiny bikini on Twitter.
Prior to that, she made headlines by breaking up with a fellow Aussie swimmer right before the 2008 Olympics.
None of that would have happened it if weren't for her looks.
Nothing is sexier than when someone speaks their mind, and that is exactly what Kobe Bryant does. He's one of the best basketball players to ever step on the court, and he knows it.
Some people call it cocky, we call it sexy.
New York Jets
Tim Tebow is the guy every parent wants their daughter to bring home. He's respectable, caring, and also has really big muscles.
Tebow hasn't done much for the Jets this year, but he did lead the Broncos to the playoffs last year in miraculous fashion.
Ronda Rousey will be the first woman to ever fight in the UFC. Rousey has never lost a single professional MMA fight, either. She is awesome.
Rousey also said she 'tries to have as much sex as possible' when she has a fight coming up.
U.S. Olympic Swimmer
For starters, Ryan Lochte has won an impressive 11 gold medals. Lochte has also made a name for himself, coining his frat-boy term 'Jeah!,' appearing on an episode of 90210, and selling his branded clothing.
He also looks great in a Speedo, and how many people can pull that off?
New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski is your classic frat boy. He loves to party, hangs out with porn stars, and says the most hilarious (and sometimes just dumb) things to get a laugh. Gronk would have no trouble walking into a bar and picking up any girl he wanted.
Gronk is also a beast on the field, which makes him even sexier.
U.S. Men's Soccer
Bocanegra is the captain of the U.S. men's soccer team, and he's also a heartthrob who is constantly in the headlines of the excellent, swoon-happy, soccer gossip blog, Kickette.
British Olympic diver
Tom Daley burst on to the scene this summer as one of the hottest Olympic athletes out there. Daley has abs to die for and a smile no one can resist. He won a bronze medal for Great Britain on the 10 meter platform.
Daley also specialises in the 'ghetto slut drop.'
US Women's soccer team
Alex Morgan had an incredible 2012, leading her team to a gold medal at the Olympics. She's taken over for Hope Solo as the official fiercely talented pretty girl on the U.S. national team.
This is what we call sexy. Morgan also has some incredible abs.
Reggie Bush is fast. Bush runs a 4.38 40 yard dash, and usually runs them right into the endzone. He also had a fling with the beautiful and famous Kim Kardashian.
And just look at that smile.
Danica Patrick is the most successful female race car driver ever. Her first year in NASCAR was a rocky one, but she has a promising future. Patrick is also the face of GoDaddy.com, appearing in most of their ads.
New York Jets
Mark Sanchez may not be having the best year on the field, but that doesn't take away from how sexy he is and always will be. And he doesn't look half bad without his shirt on.
How can you not fall in love with those hazel eyes?
US Olympic sprinter
Felix won three gold medals and became the most recognisable U.S. sprinter (not hurdler, though) in London.
She's classically beautiful, with a signature smile, and has one of the most sculpted bodies in sports.
On the field, Ronaldo had the best season of his career in 2012, scoring 71 goals in all competitions.
Off the field, he maintained his status as one of the biggest sex symbols in sports by modelling Armani underwear and dating a swimsuit model.
The beautiful Maria Sharapova, hailing from Russia, is the second best female tennis player in the world. Standing 6'2' tall, there's no way your eyes won't gravitate to Sharapova when she walks into a room.
In 2012, Sharapova gracefully won the French Open and an Olympic silver medal.
There cannot be a conversation about soccer without mentioning David Beckham. Even people who don't watch a lick of soccer know who Beckham is. Most recently, he's led the L.A. Galaxy to two consecutive MLS Cups.
Beckham is also flawless. From the eyes, to the scruffy beard, to the tattoos, how could you call him anything but sexy? Oh, he also has a British accent.
US Olympic hurdler
Lolo Jones was the talk of the Olympics this summer. Jones is not only beautiful and ripped, she's also hilarious. Now, Jones is on the U.S. bobsled team. She made headlines when she came out on Twitter saying she was a virgin.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady is the definition of sexy. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, he's married to a supermodel, and he looks good no matter how ridiculous he's dressed. Brady is also the face of men's UGGs and has done a little modelling himself.
Faux hawk on the side of your head? Sure Tom, you can do whatever you want with your hair.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.