Consider for a moment that despite only playing two games (and losing both) that a team could be deemed the champion of their sport.
Now consider Serena Williams, who despite her dyn-o-mite dress still only played in two tournaments all year yet STILL won the ESPY for Best Female Tennis Player. If it is a popularity contest, then sure Serena should win. But something tells me that ESPN is not wanting the ESPYs to be a popularity contest; they want the ESPYs to be taken seriously as an award.
Yet, how can you take the ESPYs seriously when Williams is winning over Kim Clijsters (Aussie Open champ), Li Na (French Open champ; Aussie runner-up), and Caroline Wozniacki (world’s number one)? Williams is 175th in the world!!! And yet was somehow deemed the “Best Female Tennis Player” in the world!
But that was not the only odd choice. While Cristie Kerr is good, how could Yani Tseng not win Best Female Golfer? Blake Griffin as Breakthrough Athlete? Did anyone not see that coming? Shouldn’t “breakthrough” be more for an athlete that was not expected to suddenly flourish, like Jose Bautista or Arian Foster? And controversy aside, how is Jimmer Fredette the “Best Male College Athlete” over Cameron Newton!?
Why all of this bullshit? Because the ESPYs are garbage. It is simply a popularity contest where fans vote by name and television exposure rather than actual achievements. The ESPYs are no more than — and should be taken more seriously than — a fan’s choice awards program.
The popularity contest is endemic across the entire sports media universe. Take the recent “all-star” game for Major League Baseball. Statistically, there is no reason that Derek Jeter should have been voted into the All-Star game. However, because it is a popularity contest, he “won” the shortstop spot for the American League.
After he was voted in, the response to complaints about Jeter’s selection was that “no one is tuning in to see Asdrubal Cabrera.” Well, of course not because sports media cannot get off of the Yankees and Red Sox long enough to allow other players to flourish. Because of the overexposure to the Yankees, and because there are more Yankee fans in general [market size; longevity of team], it makes sense that in a “fan” vote that a player like Jeter will get voted in over a player like Cabrera.
Thus the All-Star game is not really “All-Stars” as much as it is a popularity contest. Just call it what it is — Celebrity Baseball — and move on; no one is watching anyway.
Yet still, these “fan votes” are somehow being legitimated as if they are really selecting the best players. Christ, the “fans” almost voted in Russell Martin as the AL’s catcher over Detroit’s Alex Avila!!!!!! Thus, how can you take the All-Star Game seriously with that kind of voting!?
Which leads back to the ESPYs. How can you take the ESPYs seriously when they are voting for Williams, Kerr and Fredette over Na, Tseng and Newton? Because they are voting on name alone. How long do you think most “voters” debated the merits of voting for Tamika Catchings over Diane Taurasi? Not long. The eyes went right to Taurasi because she was a familiar name.
And the “Best Female Golfer” debate probably went something like this: “Tseng? Shin? Choi? What the hell are all of these foreigners!? I’m votin’ for the Amer’can!”
Serena Williams. Blake Griffin. Lindsey Vonn. Shaun White. Well-known names that likely got them the ESPY. Additionally, you have to wonder if the proximity of the NBA Finals (and to an extent the Stanley Cup Finals for the NHL) to the voting period clouded people’s memory. After all, look at how many “awards” the Mavericks garnered.
The ESPYs are a nice little acknowledgement from the fans, but that is it. It shows basically who is popular and who is not more than it shows who is actually the best at her or his sport. It is simply a popularity contest.
Given the likelihood of fans not giving any of the categories serious consideration, perhaps a better name for the ESPYs would be the GuessPYS.
Hmm………maybe we could do that here.