SI Sportsperson of the Year 2018

I thought I could hold out until after baseball season before bringing this up, but after quite a few people are linking the Eagles and Villanova as this being “Philadelphia’s Year,” I decided to dust it off a little early.

Anyway, here are my current rankings for this year’s Sportsperson of the Year:

  1. If the Warriors win the NBA: Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant - this is almost given.

  2. If the Penguins win the Stanley Cup: Sidney Crosby and somebody from the USA women’s Olympic ice hockey team.

  3. Tiger Woods, if he wins a major, even though this would be his third time, and nobody else besides LeBron has even won it twice (not including Sportsperson of the Decade/Century).

  4. Nick Foles and Jay Wright, representing Philadelphia’s titles (they won’t give it to a Villanova player; the only college basketball player to win the award for something other than humanitarian reasons is Jerry Lucas in 1961).

  5. Shaun White and Chloe Kim - and, hopefully, Ester Ledecka (“Who?” The snowboard gold medalist who also won a gold medal in skiing; unfortunately, the “Who?” factor, as well as the “didn’t represent the USA” factor, probably disqualifies her).

You have forgotten the World Cup. A player from the winner of that will definitely factor into things.

Only if it’s from the USA, and since USA didn’t qualify, that’s not happening.

If they’re going to give to an Olympian (or Olympians), then the US woman who won the cross-country skiing gold will be featured as well.

I don’t see Foles winning, or anyone from the Eagles (unless they win again). Seems they consider the full NFL season to be attributed to the prior year (i.e. the Feb. 2018 Super Bowl was for the 2017 season).

No love for John Shuster?

No love for any of these three - they’re “flashes in the pan.” The only reason I included Chloe Kim was, she was SI’s “poster girl” for the Olympics - and the only reason I included Ledecka is, the only chance she has is on the coattails of White and Kim, the way Johann Olav Koss did with Bonnie Blair in 1994.

Any reason why many of these predictions are paired off or part of a group? I mean, I guess if it cannot be a single person to win it, I suppose they can pair Clayton Kershaw with Vin Scully (still the finest gentleman to set foot on any surface).

I feel that this is unlikely.

  • Yes, it was the Eagles’ first Super Bowl win, and they did it with a backup quarterback, after being underdogs though the playoffs. But, by the time that the SotY voting happens, there’ll have been most of another NFL season that’ll have transpired, with all-new storylines and heroes. If Foles has a great season in 2018 (bear in mind that he’s still technically the backup QB), and builds on the story of last season’s playoffs, then, maybe he has a chance. Otherwise, this past Super Bowl will have been ancient history by that point.

  • I don’t follow college basketball closely, but Villanova was a #1 seed, and so, I’m not sure that them winning the NCAA is the sort of story that wins their coach the SotY. Was there something about this year’s Villanova team that makes it (and their coach) particularly noteworthy?

Plus, I get the sense that you’re looking at last year’s joint SotY (Watt and Altuve) as being a precedent for giving the award to multiple recipients who represent a city. Remember that last year’s award was linked to the devastation in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, and the humanitarian work that both Watt and Altuve did in the area (as well as Altuve’s Astros winning the World Series).

I think it’s more coincidence than anything else.
Curry and Durant - they could give it to just Curry, but I see both of them as the “face” of the Warriors. When David Robinson won in 2003, he shared it with Tim Duncan. LeBron won it alone because, for all intents and purposes, it was “LeBron and a bunch of other guys.”
Crosby and the women’s Olympic hockey team - after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup last year, I thought he had a shot (by himself), but I have a feeling the NHL has fallen off of the magazine’s radar; adding the Olympic team gives them the excuse to give it to him
Foles and Wright - see my other reply below
White and Kim - usually, with Olympians, it’s more than one, and if it’s not a team, then it’s a man and a woman (Moses and Retton in 1984; Blair and Koss in 1994). Besides, if it’s just White, then the response will be, “What - women aren’t good enough for anything other than the swimsuit issue?”, and if it’s just Kim, then it’s, “How many gold medals does White have to win before you even consider him?”.

Not just last year; “the city” has been the impetus for a number of SotY winners. LeBron would not have won it in 2016 except for the link with Cleveland; “Red Sox Nation” won it in 2004; and, in 1979, Willie Stargell and Terry Bradshaw both won.

I don’t think either Foles or Wright deserve it on their own; it’s the whole Philadelphia thing that has them on the list - and the only reason I started this thread now, rather than waiting for the NBA, NHL, or Tiger, is because “Philadelphia, City of Champions” seems to be trending now.

Gotcha. The Flyers are, it looks like, going to make the playoffs, but as a low seed. The Sixers have clinched a playoff spot, and are currently the #4 seed in the East. So, yeah, if one of them makes a run, or if the Phillies do something this season (though 538 is currently projecting them to finish 77-85), maybe there’s a case to be made.

Roger Federer has never won this?

I’m not saying this is his year, but certainly he has had a year somewhere in his amazing career that would earn this recognition.

He has not. The only tennis players that have won the award in the past 30 years have been Arthur Ashe (1992) and Serena Williams (2015), and Ashe’s award was for his humanitarian work (he was long retired from tennis at that point, and was dying from AIDS).

Not surprisingly, as SI is a U.S. magazine, the award winners are largely American. Since 1988, only 3 winners were not U.S. citizens, and two of the three were MLB players (Sammy Sosa and Jose Altuve) – the other was Norwegian speedskater Johann Olav Koss (co-winner with Bonnie Blair in 1994).

And the only other two have been Billie Jean King (1972 - this was the year before she beat Bobby Riggs, so it wasn’t based on that) and Chris Evert (1975).

In the U.S., tennis was a big deal in the 1970s, and into the 1980s. King and Evert were big names, and well-known among casual sports fans, as were Jimmy Connors (his romance with Evert was huge tabloid fodder) and John McEnroe, and foreign players like Bjorn Borg and Martina Navratilova. And, the 1970s were generally seen as the “boom years” for amateur tennis participation in the U.S., as well.

Well, I’m impressed by anyone who tries to predict the Sportsman of the Year just a quarter of the way through the year!

Couple of thoughts.

+Not sure Shaun White would’ve been the choice anyway, see below, but I do think the sexual harassment allegations against him will torpedo any chance he might’ve had.

+Anyway, the Winter Olympics just doesn’t register all that much, and the only winners ever were a pair of multiple-gold-medalists (Blair/Koss) and a team that was a huge story (1980 US hockey). Chloe Kim doesn;t flip either of those buttons. If anyone is going to win from the Olympics, I’d think it’d be the USA women’s hockey team…but I wouldn;t bet on it. (I think Ester Ledecka would be a great choice (and so would my son’s new Slovakian-American relatives), but she’s obscure and not American and there’s no way.)

+The Philadelphia thing. As others have pointed out, the Altuve/Watt choice was prompted in large part by the humanitarian response in Houston after the storm. I would guess (I don;t know for sure) that the Pittsurgh choice in 79 (Stargell and Bradshaw) was couched in terms of “civic pride,” with Pittsburgh moving rapidly at the time from “Polluted City, Something of a National Joke” in the sixties to being chosen “Best Place to Live in the US” in the eighties: a slant of “restoring pride to a city undergoing a renaissance.” Not sure what kind of narrative Philadelphia provides.

+Hockey. Looks like no NHL player has won for on-ice activities since 1982. I don’t follow hockey closely–is Crosby significantly better than the other folks who’ve led their teams to multiple championships since then? Seems like hockey is just not on the SI radar these days, as somebody noted.

+There certainly have been a number of shared awards lately, but the thing still is called Sportsperson [singular] of the Year. I would think it’s more likely that just one person would be selected than a duo, as others have noted, especially given the number of multiple winners lately. So I don’t know about the likelihood of two Warriors sharing the award, or a coach and a quarterback, or a couple of snowboarders. --But if there are two, one real possibility (baseball’s just getting under way, so who knows) would be something like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper “the young great stars of MLB”

Will be interesting to see.

Women - it was a team of two: Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins.

I think they are longshots for Sportspersons of the Year, but it was a noble accomplishment.

I should hope not. After all she accomplished in a long career, to have given her a big award for some trivial PR stunt would have been a travesty.

I think if either Judge or Stanton break the non-steroid HR record of 61, they’re going to get it. Or if the Yankees win the WS, one of them will.