Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 4. Below are some personal choices for that honor by SI writers.
11/17/2006 05:12:00 PM
My Sportsman: Shaun White
Despite his X Games upbringing, snowboarder Shaun White grasped what it meant to be an Olympian.
By Drew Packham
Can you get an award for being a normal dude?
If so, snowboarder Shaun White's my guy for Sportsman of the Year. Well, as normal as a guy can be after almost single-handedly helping the Americans save face in the 2006 Olympic Games.
While ultra-hyped skier Bode Miller followed his pre-Olympic fanfare with failure, White flew into America's hearts with a laid-back attitude and the success to make us care. In the process, he became the cover boy (twice on Sports Illustrated) for the Turin Games.
White had been on the fringe-sport scene for years, growing up in the same coastal Southern California town (Carlsbad) as skating legend Tony Hawk and skateboarding with the pros before he hit puberty. By his 16th birthday, White had a sponsorship with Burton and was a household name around the skating/snowboarding world. But to those on the outside, White remained a relative unknown.
The Olympics changed all that. NBC did its best to overhype "The Flying Tomato" (a nickname White's grown tired of; it derives from his mop of red hair) but it wasn't until he overcame an early fall and pulled off a near-perfect run on the halfpipe that White cemented his legacy.
Standing on the podium, with flowers and gold medal in tow, White did something no one expected -- he shed a tear. OK, it was more like welling up. Either way, it was an unexpected sight from a long-haired kid you'd more likely expect to see in the mall than on a podium representing his country.
This 19-year-old kid wasn't afraid to show that he cared, that winning gold and representing his country was a big deal to him. In the end, White was just a normal dude, a dude who showed that it's OK -- even "rad" -- to care. Now that's special.
Good choice. Shaun White came in first and did it with class (as much as a 19 year old snowboarder can muster). Can you hear that Sasha Cohen? Perhaps you should talk to your collegues (who picked Mark Cuban or that soccer head-butt guy)and explain to them about class. Even so Misty May and Kerri Walsh still deserve the award.
Shaun is definitely a good choice for Sportsman of the Year. Not only did he win the gold in Turin, he placed first in every snowboard event he entered in 2006 including the Winter X Games. Congratulations Shaun!!!
I love that someone picked Shaun White. Snowboarding represents our country well and to often doesn't get much credit. Don't forget that Shaun White is a great athlete for the fact that he not only is a ridiculously awesome snowboarder but a pro in a second sport, skateboarding.