GQ, for their man of the year, decided leftist politics were the way to go (see GQ Picks Colin Kaepernick for 2017 Citizen of the Year. And It’s Hilarious and Owen Benjamin Reminds Us Who Passes for a GQ Cover). Sports Illustrated went in a different direction. Their “Sportsmen of the Year” are two guys who did more than sit out a series of games in protest of the same country which allows him to sit games. While raking in millions of dollars. In other words, two guys who managed to not be complete douchelords in 2017. Maybe there’s a cash prize.
Houston Texans JJ Watt and Houston Astros Jose Altuve.
Which brings us to the 2017 Sportsperson of the Year honorees, J.J. Watt and José Altuve. By the third week of September, less than a month after Hurricane Harvey had devastated Houston and its surrounding region, Watt had raised more than $37 million in relief aid. The SOTY candidacy of the Texans’ defensive end was unaffected by the gruesome, season-ending leg injury he suffered in Week 5. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year—the best defensive player of his generation, really—could have had the best season of his career, or the worst. His place as a Sportsperson of the Year had already been engraved.
And this fall, Altuve was the joyous catalyst for one of the most unlikely World Series runs in recent memory. Championships don’t save communities, and we should be careful to assign too much weight to their powers of healing. But what other event can bring a million-plus people together and provide a platform, however ephemeral, to cast aside the differences that drive so many of us to sports in the first place? “The city of Houston has treated me really good,” Altuve tells Tom Verducci. “I felt at that time that I owed them something. So when they were having a hard time, I wanted to give something back to them.”
First, let’s not confuse a magazine’s publicity stunt with the Congressional Medal of Honor. The interwebs get easily triggered when publishers give meaningless awards to people they don’t like. We are talking about a magazine. Are some of these decisions ripe for mockery? Absolutely. They demand mockery. It’s your God fearing patriotic American duty to mock them. Feel free to, rather than engage in meaningful activity, tweet rage. It’s the new America thing to do.
But we can still appreciate it when good people are acknowledge for… well, being good people. Especially in the case of Watt. He raised $37 million for his cause. How much did Kaepernick raise for his cause? No, the $89 million bribe doesn’t count. Nor does raising awareness for afros.
So good for Sports Illustrated.
And if you’re still looking for a political argument, may I suggest Amazon’s Alexa?