With the Emmys out of our rearview mirror and the Oscars three months away, we know you're in awards withdrawal. Thus we proudly present SI's first Viewers Choice Awards, commemorating the best and worst of sports broadcasting in 2001. The envelopes, please:
Person of the Year: Jim Rome, Fox Sports Net. After nearly flaming out seven years ago following his infamous interview with Rams quarterback Jim (Don't Ever Call Me Chris) Everett, the once too-obnoxious-for-his-own-good Rome has matured into one of the sharpest interviewers in TV sports, presiding over a show that mixes conversations with newsmakers and cutting-edge commentary.
Best Newcomer: Troy Aikman, Fox NFL analyst. The former Dallas quarterback made a smooth transition to the booth and could be heir apparent to John Madden.
Best Studio Show: Inside the NBA, TNT. The free-for-all among Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith provides enough information to sate the hard-core fan—and more punch lines during one postgame show than you'll hear during a season of NBC's sitcom Inside Schwartz.
Best Documentary: Winning Is Living and Losing Is Dying: The George Allen Story, ESPN. This fascinating NFL Films production tackled the life and legacy of a brilliant but complicated coach.
Best Bout: The Aug. 30 Lennox Lewis- Hasim Rahman brawl while they were guests on ESPN's Up Close had more action than their Nov. 17th fight—and was far more compelling than most of host Gary Miller's punchless interviews on the now deceased show.
The Melissa Rivers Award: To ESPN's Chris Connelly, whose afternoon interview show Unscripted has, since its Oct. 22nd debut, been as illuminating as one of Missy's red-carpet Oscar night interviews on E!
The Worst Damn Sports Show of the Year: The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Fox Sports Net. Comedian Tom Arnold and sports go together like Tori Spelling and Academy Award winner.
Most Pleasant Surprise: ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, with entertainingly acidic Washington Post scribes Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. Who knew watching two guys with faces for radio could be so entertaining?
The Boo-yah Award: To ESPN's Stuart Scott, who gave Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis a hug after a testy Super Bowl press conference. Somehow we doubt Edward R. Murrow similarly embraced Harry Truman following a State of the Union Address.