I first started watching the ESPYS thinking I was going to write an article on the good and bad that happened during the event. I had my first entries all ready to go, I had segments written bashing Janelle Monae for those trifling singing performances between segments, and pieces written showing my utmost appreciation toward Erin Andrews and Brooklyn Decker for attending the award show; obviously because I have the utmost appreciation for their successful careers. Than as the night progressed I began to acquire a different tune about the ESPYS, one of which was not solely concentrated on the awards and entertainment of the night, but rather on the underlying meaning behind this huge event.
Approaching the ESPYS it is certainly easy to categorize it as another event that raises the stock and produces more accolades for the already rich and famous athletes strolling their stuff on the red carpet in L.A., but I was able to determine a different summary of the night; a night that highlighted the perseverance of individuals, the resurrection of towns, and the voice of the people in a collective environment.
Quite often their is scrutiny when fans have the opportunity to vote that allows them to determine the outcome of an athletic event or award. It is often claimed that the average fan does not have enough knowledge to wager their two sense into a decision, and therefore voting should be left to the “professionals”. Certainly at times I can back this decision, as I even thought about doing so when the New Orleans Saints were awarded the trophy for best team. Drew Brees and company produced an electric offense and a stellar team during this past season, but can you really compare them to the women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut that compiled a final record of 33-0 and won a national championship. It was not until the conclusion of the ESPYS that I realized that they were not all about statistics and numbers, but rather it brought a certain emotional and personal level to the stage, a level that was created largely because of “uneducated” fan.
After analyzing the event it is now easy to conclude that the winners of the night were based on various emotional appeals and the connection between American fans and their nation and cities. Should the Saints have really won the Best Team Award, its arguable, but the story linked to that team and Katrina and how our nation rallied together during a time of distress was too powerful for voters to have it any other way. Was Landon Donovan and U.S.A. soccer really the most worthy recipient for the Best Moment Award? They could have been, but what they really did was allow an entire nation to come together as a collective unit while allowing our country to cheer for the red, white, and blue. That being said, maybe that is the same reason why Lindsay Vohn ousted Serna Williams and Maya Moore for Best Female Athlete. Was Vohn really the better athlete, or could we not detach our American pride from the equation.
By no means am I trying to claim that certain individuals did not deserve their awards, but rather I am embracing the idea that emotional events and times of unity can be ever so powerful. The most memorable moment was probably acknowledging an individual whom you have never heard of before the evening began, Ed Thomas. If you still do not know who Thomas is, that is okay, but what you need to know is the emotional tie that was brought upon the audience during the explanation of his life, a story that allowed an audience of multi-million dollar athletes to realize what they do for a profession is only a small scheme of the big game we like to call life. It was also during the Jimmy V award presentation, when George Karl was presented the award for his perseverance, that everyone was able to realize that there is so much more to everyday living than sports.
Certainly the night was filled with humorous skits joking about Bret Favre’s age, critiquing LeBron’s James’ decision, and questioning Tiger Wood’s steering ability, but when the night was over I was able to reflect on the ESPYS and understand that there is nothing more powerful in our world than emotional connection. Sports are a huge part of our industry today, but in the end everyone must remember something my parents would constantly tell me when I played sports growing up, “remember, it’s only a game.”
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. The decision is yours.
Images by @ESPYs