Over the past few years, I’ve had problems with some of the athletes Sports Illustrated picked (and failed to pick) as its Sportsman of the Year. In particular, I was dumbfounded in 2006 when the magazine gave the award to Dwayne Wade, an excellent basketball player, over Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player in the sport’s history (and a man who has yet to earn the nodâ€”an unfathomable oversight). I thought that decision truly lowered the award’s status. It truly did.
This year, however, I can’t argue: Derek Jeter was named Sportsman of the Year today, and it’s a wonderful pick. Is Jeter the best player in the game? No. Is he in his prime? Probably not. But at a time when sports have become overly commercialized, overly gimmicky, overly … everything, Jeter represents the virtues that draw us all to athletics in the first place: Passion. Love. Heart. His professionalism is to be admired; his approach emulated. As I wrote earlier, he is the Joe DiMaggio of the modern game.
I applaud the decision, and I applaud the man.