I’m writing from my homeland — the mean streets of Connecticut. When Sports Illustrated announced earlier today that Mike Krzyzewski (along with Pat Summitt) was its 2011 Sportsman of the Year, there was a strange noise here that I couldn’t place at first.
Soon, though, I realized what it was: celebration. Every washed-up lacrosse player, Duke alum, and date rapist in the state had taken to the streets to scream their throats raw and raise their lax sticks in triumph. Their beloved Coach K had earned one of the most prestigious honors in sports.
Yep, SI has once again draped itself in glory with this selection — the publication that has been home to countless Rick Reilly puns, senile Frank DeFord rambles, and nonsensical Peter King asides (“More Funkhauser!”) has chosen an arrogant, petulant cheater as its Sportsman of the Year.
Really, SI is just extending a grand tradition of picking loathsome human beings to win an award that purportedly goes to the person who “most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.”
The list of those who have been given this honor is staggering: every kind of cheater, misogynist and plain asshole has been rhapsodized by SI. In many of these chases, the magazine probably couldn’t have known what headlines awaited their honoree in the future. In others, as with Coach K, it was apparent at the time that their so-called Sportsman was anything but.
The Top Ten Most Embarrassing SI Sportsmen of the Year:*
* You know a list is bad when Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and Tom Brady — three of my most hated athletes of all time — can’t even crack the top ten. And no Coach K yet. We need to let that one sit for a while to see where he ranks.
10) John Wooden
9) 2004 Boston Red Sox (2004, obvs)
Definitely a clean group of guys who played the game the right way. Manny and Papi say hi.
8) All of the golfers (lots of years)
Do you know how many times golfers have won Sportsman of the Year? Seven. And they’ve only been doing this for 58 years. That is too many times. The last thing golf needs is someone else celebrating its honor and sportsmanship. As it is, the PGA’s arm is sore from all the wankery.
7) Mary Decker (1983)
6) Brett Favre (2007)
“For his perseverance and his passion.” Uh huh.
5) Tiger Woods (1996, 2000)
The only two-time winner. Maybe they should just give him one for every woman he paid to keep quiet.
4) Pete Rose (1975)
Fun quotes from the piece on Rose:
- “I’m laughing today at all those guys who called me names,” Rose is now able to say as he hustles himself into the Hall of Fame.
- “You can’t judge a player when you see him only a few games a season.” — Joe Morgan (showing early signs of being the top-notch analyst we’d all grow to love)
- He earns more than $160,000 a year, funds he entrusts primarily to the keeping of an attorney, an agent and an accountant. Ah, but we do not care about his money.
3) Joe Paterno (1986)
2) Lance Armstrong (2002)
Because America needed to heal after 9/11.
1) Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (1998)
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.