Commentary

The sportsman of the year is a woman

UConn's Maya Moore should be the hands-down winner of anybody's award this year

Originally Published: December 28, 2010
By Scoop Jackson | ESPN.com

It may be that hardly anybody reads this. It may be that fewer than 100 people comment in the conversation pages at the bottom of the column. It may be that it will not resonate anywhere beyond the 203/860/475 area codes.

No one else really seems to care.

It's going to take some courage. Not the courage to say or write it, but the courage to see it. The courage to look past the "man" in "Sportsman" and acknowledge that this time, a woman did it better than any man.

[+] EnlargeMaya Moore
AP Photo/Jessica HillMaya Moore was at her very best in UConn's record-breaking 89th straight win last week: 41 points and 10 rebounds.

Truth told: Maya Moore is the real 2010 Sportsman of the Year. But no one will admit it.

No disrespect to SI (Drew Brees is its selection) or any other outlet that crowned someone else, but let's be honest: She's it. And we ought to admit it.

Not saying that Moore had a greater individual year (though that's arguable) than anyone else. It's just that the acknowledgement of what she has accomplished shouldn't be overlooked or overshadowed because of gender. But we know that it is.

Moore's 2010 (and 2009, for that matter) was better than Brees' year. Better than Manny Pacquiao's year. Better than the years enjoyed by Jimmie Johnson, Rafa Nadal, Kobe Bryant, Kelly Slater, Evan Lysacek, Armando Galarraga and any other male athlete who writers, experts and fans took into consideration when they cast their votes for the person (man) they felt had the most overall impact on sports. But let the person at the epicenter of what has become one of the greatest achievements in sports history -- professional or amateur -- be a woman, and somehow the "man" part of "Sportsman" gets really literal.

Really chromosome specific.

Disagree? Need facts and stats? Need something of a phenomenal nature, something Tiger, Jordan or Brady-esque to sell you on the fact that Maya Moore -- a non-professional female athlete -- should be universally recognized as the King of Sports this year, and not just the Queen?

Eighty-nine games without a loss, likely to be 90 after Tuesday night's game at Pacific. Not only is that a record, but Moore, along with guard Tiffany Hayes, has been a part of every one of those wins. I would go so far as to say that she is responsible for the outcome of every game. People love to talk about value and the value a person has to a team (especially when talking MVPs), and how a team would fare without said player. Well, take Moore away from this UConn team and are we even thinking about history being made? Are we even thinking about having this dialogue? Is there any player on any team in any sport more important or valuable to his or her team's success than she is and has been?

[+] EnlargeMaya Moore
AP Photo/Jessica HillMoore has accepted and met every challenge better than any other athlete in any sport this year.

ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel wrote it best: "The streak -- this bit of unforgettable, gilded history -- will always belong to one player more than any other." One guess as to who she was speaking of?

In thinking about this column, I asked myself this: What did Drew Brees do that was more significant? He was the MVP of the Super Bowl, won by his New Orleans Saints. Was it a repeat championship? Did the Saints go undefeated? Did they make history in the process?

Not like Moore and UConn did.

I can say the same about Johnson in NASCAR, Pacquiao in boxing, Kobe in the NBA, etc. Did any of them put together an undefeated year on the back of doubling up as the defending national champs and Player of the Year in her sport. (Maybe the only one close is Johnson, who has won five consecutive Sprint Cup championships and was Driver of the Year in 2006, 2007 and 2010.)

Trust me, if she were a dude …

After watching Moore put on the performance of the year (41 points/10 rebounds/3 blocks) in the history-making game against Florida State last week, the game that made her a part of the longest winning streak in basketball history (college or pro), I asked myself this: How much longer can we ignore it? How much longer are we going to ignore the obvious?

I asked: Will anyone say it, write it or even admit it? Anyone?

How much longer are we going to turn our heads away from the truth that 2010's Sportsman of The Year is a Sportswoman?

Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.

MORE COMMENTARY

Scoop Jackson | email

ESPN.com columnist

ALSO SEE