Real Sportsman of 2011…Happy New Year

Posted: January 2, 2012 in ALL II
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Sports Illustrated closed out 2011 by naming Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summit and Duke Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski co-Sportswoman (Sportsman) of the year.  Few people make me appreciate sports and winning than Pat Summit, recently diagnosed with the early stages of dementia while few illicit more hate than anything Duke, especially the head master.  Both coaches enjoy historic success but both did not win a national championship or do anything extraordinarily special – to my eye – to earn the award.  Of course, 2012 will be special as Coach K will lead the US Men’s Team in the Olympics and Pat Summit will be coaching during the 40th anniversary of Title IX so save it for next year.  Too much happened for the fine folks at SI to botch this one.  Below are my finalists for Sportsman of the Year and who I would’ve picked for the award.

Aaron Rodgers

At the time of the selection, Rodgers did not lose a game in the 2011 calendar year.  Pardon him for only losing one game, winning the Super Bowl, Super Bowl MVP, and moving the Packers to America’s team by popular opinion polling.  Rodgers, it mustn’t be forgotten, was known as a guy who could not get it done.  In many ways he represented the virtues of hard work, patience, and focus.  Not known to be featured in the limelight like other two-time AFC title game losing quarterbacks but he overcame the “cannot close the game” narrative established in the previous two seasons to do it all.  His 2011-12 campaign will certainly give him MVP honors which makes his calendar year the best stretch of quarterback play I have ever seen.  SI’s Tim Layden made the case here.

Bud Selig

Sound the alarm for me representing a commissioner in sports.  I cannot understand why the people in charge of the activity/entertainment never seem to get credit for supervising said entertainment.  Maybe it is because they represent “suits,” make bad decisions, appear outdated, and embody the 1%.  What Selig did prior to 2011 is irrelevant because he oversaw one of the best seasons in recent memory with late season collapses, historic pitching performances, yet another season where money does not win titles, and an epic World Series.  Though Selig cannot be credited with everything, he is responsible for labor peace and probably the best labor situation in American sports.  While the NFL and NBA sought to ruin their treasure chest, MLB improved their sport with expanded replay, a one game playoff among wild card winners, and revenue related competitive balance measures.  Even better for the labor inclined, the players get more money, greater head safety with better helmets, and improved benefits for rookies and retired players.  Selig made it happened and that is more than enough for Sportsman of the Year especially if Peter King thinks Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith deserved a recommendation.

Note: As much as I love cycling (Cadel Evans), Soccer (Messi), and other sports/interest stories, a compelling Sportsman of the Year story excludes most other major story lines and sports.  Sad but true.

My 2011 Sportsman of the Year: Dirk Nowitzki

WORLD CHAMPION.  Not only did he overcome the over-exaggerated evil of the big three led by Lebron James and stayed loyal to his team while free agency crippled fan bases, Nowitzki did something almost impossible in both sports and life.  The 2011 Playoffs allowed Dirk whose reputation was set in stone the ability to change from a softy that could not be clutch to a machine that dominated from start to finish.  His ability to win with a team that did not boast multiple stars and change his place in history while punctuating arguably the most talented playoffs in the past twenty years.  No one expected Dallas to win it all and everyone questioned Dirk’s ability in the clutch.  The non-American came, saw, and conquered delivered through it all.  Still underrated but much more respected!  Here is Ian Thomsen’s case for Dirk…a man who redefined himself when so many this late in their careers cannot.

  1. ALL 2 – This is just plain dumb.

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