Michael Vick is named Jerk of the Year
Outsports polled its readers and discussion board members for the second straight year to determine the honorees of three year-end awards.
Outsports Story of the Year: John Amaechi comes out
The coming out of former NBA player John Amaechi was the landslide winner of Outsports’ 2007 Story of the Year with just over 50% of the vote.
Amaechi made huge waves in the sports world when he came out publicly on ESPN and Outsports, and in his best-selling book, Man in the Middle. Closeted while he was in the NBA, the social profile and impact that Amaechi’s story had far exceeded what virtually anyone expected.
Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring came in second (17% of the vote), followed by Barry Bonds’ year (11%), the New England Patriots (10%), Brett Favre’s resurgence (10%), and referee fixing in the NBA (2%).
The Outgames and Gay Games was the 2006 Outsports Story of the Year.
Anthony Castro was an out high school football player. John Amaechi came out after he left the NBA.
In our first-ever tie, both former NBA player John Amaechi and former high school football player Anthony Castro have been voted Outsports’ 2007 Persons of the Year. Both received 29% of the vote of Outsports readers.
After coming out, Amaechi appeared on major television networks, on the pages of many newspapers and magazines, was on the cover of The Advocate, made ESPN The Magazine’s top 50 sports stories of the year, was the grand marshal of several gay prides, and has helped build the profile of various gay-rights organizations, including GLAAD.
Castro’s story couldn’t have been more different. He was the openly gay quarterback of his high school football team and also wrestled in rural Banning, Calif. He engaged in gay sports when he found the Los Angeles Motion gay football team several years ago, eventually winning the Gay Games gold medal with Team Outsports in 2006; he said that playing on that team with openly gay former NFL player Esera Tuaolo was one of the highlights of his life. Unfortunately, his story was only told, first here at Outsports eloquently by Jim Buzinski, when he was killed in a car accident last January. In his death, his story went from Outsports to the Advocate and ESPN and circulated the Web, touching many gay men and women.
“I voted for Anthony Castro,” Outsports member TheOtherFSU said after voting. “He's someone I wish I'd known. For all of those who are familiar with the town of Banning, a gay athlete being out in high school is tremendously courageous. I can't think of anyone more deserving of being named Outsports' person of the year.”
Also nominated were Out College Athletes (24% of the vote), New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (8% of the vote), transgender Los Angeles Times sportswriter Christine Daniels (6% of the vote), and tennis superstar Roger Federer (4% of the vote). Federer won the award last year.
Outsports Jerk of the Year: Michael Vick
While there were several nominees who were known for anti-gay comments and actions in 2007, Vick won the annual Outsports Jerk of the Year award by a landslide in a vote of our readers. He got 40% of the vote after a year in which he plead guilty for torturing and fighting dogs after which he lied about his involvement for several months.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy came in second, with 24% of the vote. After leading his team to a Super Bowl victory last January, he raised $75,000 for the anti-gay Indiana Family Institute, saying during their annual fundraising dinner that he embraces the organization’s position. Former NBA star Tim Hardaway finished a close third, with 23% of the vote. In February, Hardaway said, “I hate gay people,” in response to a radio interview asking him about John Amaechi’s coming out. While Hardaway’s homophobic comments got much more publicity than Dungy’s, the former’s apology and work to make amends for his actions made him less of a real threat than Dungy.
“Between Dungy and Hardaway, I'd have to go with Dungy no doubt,” Outsports member George Twins Fan said. “His homophobia is so much more harmful than Hardaway's. Dungy is very well-respected, educated, quiet and subliminal. His words carry a whole lot more weight than Hardaway, who just came off as a moron.”
Despite that, what Vick did to animals far surpassed the homophobic words of two men who seemed out of touch with the increasingly gay-friendly world of sports.
Also nominated were Steroid-Taking Athletes (8% of the vote), professional triathlete Sebastian Gacond (4% of the vote) who did not want his name or picture appearing on a gay Web site, and professional tennis player Richard Gasquet (1% of the vote).
Former Penn State women’s basketball coach Rene Portland won the award last year.Outsports Persons of the Year: John Amaechi and Anthony Castro