Monday, December 11, 2006

Cindy Klassen Wins Lou Marsh Award

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this...

Every year, it seems, there's a big debate over the Lou Marsh Award, earmarked for Canada's athlete of the year.

The voters have had a tendency in the past of giving the award to amateur or lesser-known athletes instead of the big guns from professional sports. Not since 1993 has it been given to a hockey player in this puck-crazy country (though Gretzky won it four times over his career). Two years ago, it was given to an Olympic kayaker. I bet 99% of Canadians have no idea who that might be. Hell, I bet 98% of Canadians didn't even know kayaking was an Olympic sport.

This year, the voting was expected to be pretty tight. Klassen was sure to be on the ballot with her 5 medals from Turin (one gold), an amazing achievement.

Steve Nash, the relatively diminutive white-bread basketballer from BC won his second consecutive NBA MVP. Wow. For him to win it once is unbelievable - for him to win it in back-to-back seasons? Fuggetaboutit.

Then there's Justin Morneau, baseball's American League MVP from the Minnesota Twins. A Canadian winning MVP? Wow. Unheard of, with the exception of Larry Walker in the National League (and no, he didn't win the Lou Marsh Award that year, either). Morneau had to beat out favourites like Derek Jeter and "Big Papi" David Ortiz for the honour.

So who should win the Lou Marsh? I mean, Klassen was certainly deserving, but let's face it, women's speed skating is "big" in Germany, the Netherlands...Italy (?)...Germany....uh....

Baseball is huge in the US, Japan, Korea, Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Canada etc etc. But it's dwarfed by the popularity of basketball worldwide (I imagine, though the stats on the popularity of sports are endlessly debated).

So if Steve Nash is the MVP of the dominant league of one of the world's most popular sports, shouldn't he win the Lou Marsh award, even if it is his second time? Ok, ok, so maybe we want to spread the love. Fine. Pansies.

So what about Morneau? The guy has reached the pinnacle of his profession. It's not like he's likely to put up a better season next year to make him "more deserving". Does a baseball MVP always get trumped by a star Olympian from a half-assed sport? (sorry, it really is - you skate in a circle for a specified distance - wicked athletes but not exactly top notch in terms of competition. I bet most male speed skaters are hockey drop-outs.) Is it best to be a big fish in a small pond than a big fish in a big pond?

If you're a Lou Marsh voter, apparently so.

Congrats to Cindy.


SH said...

Cindy represented Canada against the elite athletes of the world. And won more medals than any other Canadian athlete...ever! Steve Nash gets paid huge amounts of money to represent an American team. To me, Cindy is a hands down winner. Plus, I do not think the award should be based on the popularity of a sport, but on the ability of a specific athlete.

And, yes, I knew kayaking was an Olympic sport & who Adam van Koeverden is.

PS said...

1. By the sport's popularity, I was referring to the amount of participants, not viewers. That means Nash, to be the best, has to be better than a far far far greater number of competitors (big pond). If that isn't a consideration, why not give it to the best Canadian lawn bowler?

2. Klassen competed "against the elite athletes of the world"? You mean all 25 who compete in Olympic speed skating? She competed against the elite competitors in her sport. Let's not get carried away.

3. If the lawn bowler wins 6 medals, that makes them the Canadian athlete of the year? Just 'cause the Winter Olympic Committee doesn't have more imagination that to simply add distances to the same sport (don't even get me started on biathlon, etc - that was another post) doesn't mean the accomplishment is exponentially greater - it's essentially the same discipline (long distance skating) with the same competitors. Besides, she only won ONE gold - last time I checked they didn't have a second place award for NBA MVP. (at least Gaetan Boucher won two golds in '84 - the year he won the award)

4. Salary is a factor?! The city he gets drafted by/traded to is a factor?! It's Canadian athlete of the year, not athlete of the year who plays for a Canadian team.

5. You are clearly amongst the 1% of the Canadian population to which I was referring. Otherwise we wouldn't be friends. :P

old man withers said...

Lou Marsh? Torstar crap! Everyone knows the CP athlete of the year is all that matters!

PS said...

Hey Old Man! Thanks for dropping by. Better late than never.

Does CP even have an "athlete of the year" award? I can only find male and female versions. What, are you guys afraid of a little "battle of the sexes" controversy?

Who's it gonna be, old man: Nash or Klassen?