Block the Vote: One Man’s Selections for Sportsman of the Year
Sometime shortly before the Presidential election, unfunny comedienne/trollbeast Lena Dunham (whom I had legitimately never heard of to that point) produced a creepy, hypersexalized video encouraging young people to vote for the first time. It was SO creepy that it was released by the President’s own YouTube channel. Because it’s what I do, I railed on about how it was disgusting and inappropriate (which it kind of was). I thought I was just bitter because it clearly promoted the candidate that I didn’t want to win and who I knew was going to win easily.
As time went on though, I realized it was more than that. I realized that it was because I had wasted my first vote all those years ago on a bad candidate with a giant, bushy eyebrow who was destined to lose himself (Michael Dukakis). I wasn’t put out by the Dunham video because it was trashy (it was) or because my candidate was going to lose (he most certainly was). I was put out by that trashy troll video because for years I had carried the scar of wasting a vote on that undeserving unibrow, hoping one day to have the opportunity to make it up to unibrowkind.
You may have noticed there aren’t many chances to vote for a unibrow candidate. I’m not sure what it is about the political process, but since Dukakis they’re sort of all been weeded out. That’s why I was so excited when I received an e-mail from Mark Story of the Lexington Herald-Leader with my ballot for the 2012 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year (or maybe it was because it was the first sign of validation of me as an accepted member of the local sports media…I mean seriously, not even ONE celebrity golf tournament — hint, hint?).
So vote I did. We were asked to pick 10 sports figures with Kentucky ties from a list of nominees and rank them in order, with comment if we saw fit. Here’s my ballot, 1-10. Redemption is finally mine.
Anthony Davis – Davis not only had the best year of anyone involved in sports in Kentucky, he may have had the best year of anybody in the country. NCAA title, running the Player of the Year table, top draft pick and an Olympic Gold Medal? That’s a solid effort.
- Nick Nicholson – It can’t be easy to be charged with guiding a state treasure like Keeneland through the difficulties faced during Nicholson’s tenure, but he did it beautifully and always with a tremendous sense of humor.
- Tyson Gay – I honestly thought Gay’s career was over a year ago, and thought injuries had sapped him of enough speed that the Olympics were out of the question. His comeback, despite narrowly missing an individual medal, is one of the year’s most inspirational stories.
- Dennis Emery – Before Mitch Barnhart – when Olympic sports didn’t have it nearly as good at UK as they do now – Emery built a winning tennis program. The 30-year career he closed with an undefeated season will go down as maybe the most underappreciated coaching tenure in UK history.
- Teddy Bridgewater — Before the 2012 football season, I said I didn’t know what the big deal about Bridgewater was. It was maybe the stupidest thing I’ve ever said – and that’s a pretty wide open field.
- Wesley Korir – I’ve always been impressed by marathoners and Korir is a great one, but his work at home in Kenya is what sets him apart from other athletes in this field.
Mitch Barnhart – Lexington’s biggest fan lightning rod has built an athletics department that few could have imagined and he reinvigorated a frustrated football fan base with a home run hire.
- Randall Cobb – When Cobb went to the NFL I expected him to be good, but not breaking all-time Packers records good. It’s not like it’s all-time Bengals records or anything.
- Lee Kiefer – Kiefer went to the Olympics as America’s top foil fencer. And while I may still have no idea what was going on, her quarterfinal run had me glued to my TV.
- Dale Romans – Dullahan, Shackleford AND Little Mike, and nine graded stakes wins? If anybody had as much success in 2012 as Anthony Davis, it was probably Romans.
So finally — a mere 20 years later — I have finally paid my debt to unibrow society. My voting mind is finally at ease. That said, I still think Lena Dunham is a trollbeast.
The Kentucky Sportsman of the Year will be announced Thursday, Jan. 31, at the second annual Bluegrass Sports Awards at the Marriott Griffin Gate. Also that night, First State Financial Sunday Morning Sports Talk co-host Larry Vaught will be honored as the recipient of the Tom Hammond Kentucky Sports Media Award. Anybody who listens to the show or reads Larry’s work at the Danville Advocate-Messenger or at vaughtsviews.com knows how richly deserving of the honor he is.