Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The AP Top Athletes Awards

Sport Illustrated has already chimed in with their "Sportsperson" of the year. They bestowed that honor on one Serena Williams.

So now it's on to the next round. The Associated Press has to hand out some hardware for their "Top Athletes".  Any more, it seems like everybody gets an award for something. The entertainment industry has long gone berserk with this stuff in a million different categories. The most memorable moment yours truly can recall was when George C. Scott refused a best actor Oscar for his role as Patton in the movie. Scott said he failed to see the point in being honored for merely doing his job. He refused to even attend such a convention of the "glitterati" congratulating themselves. Bravo indeed.

A quick look around shows how pervasive this glad-handing has become. The media routinely gives itself all manner of awards in different categories. It appears they have morphed from reporting on the news to BEING the news. Check out any of their self-written mini-bios, and one will see them crowing over their "accomplishments". Among many others, cops, firefighters, and teachers of the month/year have become commonplace in every small district around the country. Hundreds of thousands of them in all. It's not at all unusual to see a fast food place display the name of their "employee" of the month on the sign outside. Maybe they give them a certificate or a gold star on their foreheads. One thing they don't give them is a hefty raise for their outstanding efforts. Get back to cutting that meat and cooking those fries, dammit.

But the potential AP Top Athletes Awards give rise to some thoughts to ponder.

On the male side, we have finalists Stephen Curry and Jordan Spieth.

Curry splashed it up last year with the Golden State Warriors on their way to an NBA title, and is a worthy candidate. Spieth dominated the PGA tour winning two majors and coming up just short in the other two. He was far and away the #1 golfer in the world. The difference? Besides the sports they competed in, Curry was quick to cash in on TV ad bucks. Steph has a guaranteed NBA contract. He gets that dough no matter what. On the other hand, we didn't see the much younger Jordan doing cheesy commercials. Spieth has to earn his money every week when he plays in a tournament. Don't make the cut, and go away empty.

On the female side, we have finalists Carli Lloyd, Ronda Rousey and, of course, the ever lovable Serena Williams.

Lloyd scored a few goals in a soccer game. Thing is, nobody pays the slightest attention to women's soccer unless the Olympics or World Cup are involved. Every two years these girls get huge media coverage but, in between, it's almost like they cease to exist. Yet scoring multiple goals in a soccer game is almost as rare as......

Serena Williams losing a tennis tournament -- or even rarer yet -- not complaining of some mysterious injury or illness when she does. Like Spieth in golf, Williams dominated the female tennis circuit. Yet it seems odd that Novac Djkovic, who was equally dominant on the men's side, didn't make the final cut.

Ronda Rousey certainly drew a lot of attention. She was quickly dispatching opponents in record time in the world of mixed martial arts with her signature "arm bar". But it was only a matter of time before she came up against a truly accomplished fighter in all phases of the game. As we know, Holly Holm knocked Ronda out cold with a vicious kick to the head. Even before that happened, Holm was using Rousey's face as a speed bag. There's a reason nobody saw Ronda for a few weeks after that fight. Let's just say her mug wasn't a pretty sight. Rousey can only be considered as an Athlete of the Year candidate because she drew so much attention to a sport where women had before gone virtually unnoticed. But c'mon. Getting thoroughly beat up and knocked out cold wouldn't seem to be the right stuff to garnish such an award. Like Stephen Curry, Ronda has been seen on many commercials. No sign of Holly Holm. She's probably back in the gym training. Who are the more dedicated athletes to their trade indeed?

And then there's the wild card from the Associated Press. An athlete that's not even a human being. Enter American Pharoah, the thoroughbred colt that won the elusive "Triple Crown" for the first time in almost 40 years. Technically, he's a candidate for the AP's Male Top Athlete.

It should be noted that if his owners dubbed him after an ancient Egyptian ruler, they got the spelling wrong. It's pharaoh, not pharoah. But who cares when a horse is winning millions of dollars and blowing away the fields in all the races for a year? Also interesting is that horses racing in the Derby, Preakness, Belmont, and Breeder's Cup have to be 3 years old. By the time they're four, they're pretty much considered retired and put out to stud.

I'd be willing to bet most red blooded American males would covet a job like that. Run hard four or five times for a single year, then spend the rest of their lives in the lap of luxury while the women with the best potential genes on the planet are brought to them in the hopes they can become pregnant. No worries about child support later. They will pay YOU money. It doesn't get any better than that.

Then again, one can't help but wonder -- what if American Pharoah had been a filly? Would the horse be up for Female Athlete of the Year?

Worse yet, what if the magnificent equine had been named Caitlyn? Would we or the AP even know what category to put "it" in for possible honors?

I dunno. Too damn many awards to keep track of these days. These days in America, one way or the other, everybody's going to be a hero. Unless, of course, like George C. Scott, one just does their job to the best of their abilities and shuns any accolades bestowed by others as merely unwarranted pomp.

Now HE was a hero.

The true ones have become few and far between in recent times.

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