When did we as a society decide that all recognition of personal achievement was going to be met with derision and outrage? The latest example came Monday after Sports Illustrated named Serena Williams as its "Sportsperson of the Year" for 2015. Williams was the dominant force in women's tennis this year. Winning the first three Grand Slam events before losing in a shocking upset in the semi-finals at the US Open to fall just short of a slam. For the season, she went 55-3--never losing before the semis of any event. And she did it at the age of 34--in a sport usually dominated by teens and twenty-somethings.
But based on the social media and sports talk feedback--you would have thought that Serena had played just one match for the entire year and lost that in straight sets. One argument was that Novak Djokovic had a better tennis year than Williams--as he also won three of the four Grand Slam titles--losing the fourth in the Finals--and he went 82-6 in singles this year. But he is 28--and in the prime of his career.
And then you had those who believed that American Pharoah didn't win the award. They made their impassioned pleas to consider that he won the first Triple Crown in 37-years plus the Breeder Cup. But let's be honest, if you were to take away gambling, horse racing would be deader than dead and maybe ten people would show up to watch races. What's more, it's the Sportsperson of the Year award--not Sportsanimal. I highly doubt American Pharoah is "disappointed" he didn't win the title.
The only other athlete I could see as matching Serena this year was golfer Jordan Spieth--who won the first two majors--then missed out on a playoff at the British Open by just one shot--and then finished second (albeit a distant second) to Jason Day at the PGA Championships at Whistling Straits. Plus he won the Tour Championship and the $10-million FedEx Cup Playoffs to set a single season money earning record--all at the age of 22. And unlike Serena, he had to beat 136-guys a week--not just the six or so in a draw. But still, he'll have plenty of chances to compete again in the future.
But the real "outrage" was saved for the cover of the magazine--in which Serena is looking hot in a short black dress while sitting on a throne. That got the feminists all worked up--as to them, Serena was being treated as "just another sex object". Nevermind that Miss Williams herself signed off on the photo shoot and likely selected her apparel herself--as she considers herself and her sister, Venus, to be "fashion mavens". Nonetheless, it gave the trolls more to complain about.
Serena Williams had a great year late in a perhaps the greatest career in her sport's history--all while breaking down barriers (real and perceived). Can't we just be happy for someone who has achieved so much--and is comfortable with who they are?