Friday, December 18, 2015

Sportsperson Of The Year

According to Sports Illustrated, it was Serena Williams. This was a horrible choice. What could they have been thinking? Then again, the writers and brass at SI are to a large degree a mishmash of various "minorities", so perhaps it should come as no great surprise they bypassed the obvious SOTY. He just happens to be a white male -- perish the politically incorrect thought -- and far more deserving of such an honor.

His name is Jordan Spieth. A professional golfer. Like tennis, golf is an individual sport. When it's time to play a tournament, one has no teammates to rely on. It's the individual player against the rest of the field, round after round. In the end, usually on a Sunday, somebody will be crowned the winner.

Both Williams and Spieth dominated their respective sports in 2015. Neither could quite pull off winning the elusive "grand slam", but there's no doubt they were the best of the best. The #1 ranking in the world, by a wide margin, pretty much says it all.

But not counting gender, race, or the sports they played, there were distinct differences between Ms. Williams and Mr. Spieth. And #1 on that list is character/class or the lack thereof.

On the golf course, young Jordan Spieth was the epitome of a gentleman. A consummate pro. You never saw him throw a Tigerish club beating tantrum after an errant shot.

A not so young Williams destroyed a lot of rackets in her hissy fits following a poor play. As if the racket was responsible.

Both made scads of money plying their trades. Millions upon millions.

Spieth has, or intends to give most of his away to various charitable causes. Williams? Well, let's just say her bank account is doing just fine, thank you.

When oh so close to a big victory, only to see it snatched away by an opponent that got "hot", Jordan was always humble in defeat. The better player on that day won.

Serena always had an excuse. She had an upset stomach, or leg cramps, or a migraine. It was always something. Anything except admitting she got beat fair and square.

When Spieth would win a big championship he might pump his fist, smile, and hug his caddy. After match point, Williams would jump up and down screeching like a chimpanzee on some serious 'roids.

Jordan goes out of his way to help others in need. Serena goes out of her way for another photo shoot. One does it quietly from the heart while giving, while the other wants to make a big splash for publicity and rake in even more bucks. Guess who's who?

They were both far and away the best in their professions during 2015, but when it comes to class, which the very word "sportsperson" should also embody -- this was not even a close call. Isn't it the very same lack of "suitable" personal behavior that continues to keep Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame where he so rightly belongs? Evidently, it's OK for some to exhibit boorish qualities, but not OK for others.

A few other candidates could have been the SOTY. Maybe if Jeff Gordon had capped off his storied NASCAR career by winning another championship in his final go-round. But he came up short, so he didn't get the nod.

Phil Taylor of SI suggested gymnast Simone Bilas. She hasn't even been to an Olympics yet. Whatsamatteryou PT? No wonder they booted him off the weekly back page beat.

Between winning another Super Bowl and the whole deflategate fiasco, Tom Brady was certainly in the news. There's a lot of class involved there. Whether it's high or low is open to debate.

Stephen Curry splashed it up with the Golden State Warriors on the way to an NBA championship, and they've picked up right where they left off in June. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy.

The difference? While both are super-rich, one has fallen prey to the sirens of -- cha-ching -- anything for another buck advertisements, while the other stays above the fray of the ever-present greed machine. Again, guess who's who?

But for Serena Williams to be named the Sportsperson Of The Year over Jordan Spieth is just a travesty.

Note to the brass at SI. Class is supposed to count.

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