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Matthew Mitcham wins Outsports' Person of the Year Award

Athletes who supported Proposition 8 are two-to-one choice for Jerks of the Year

The votes are in and we have our 2008 Outsports Person and Jerk of the year.

It comes as no surprise that openly gay Australian diver Matthew Mitcham was voted our Person of the Year overwhelmingly, garnering over two-thirds of all the votes. Mitcham captivated gay people around the world with his gold-medal performance on the last day of Olympic diving in August. Mitcham executed the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history on his final dive to win gold. It was the only diving event the Chinese did not win.

Outsports member Enigma cast a vote for Mitcham in part because of the shock factor.

You know I briefly considered Michael Phelps because he accomplished something that I'm not so sure we'll ever seen anyone do again - at least in our lifetimes. But the reason I gave Matthew Mitcham the nod, was that he wasn't expected to beat the heavily favored Chinese... I think we all expected Phelps to win all Gold... now should we punish Phelps for being so successful, no... but I just think the bigger story is the little unknown kid from Down Under who soared to the top and upset the Chinese in their own backyard with some magnificent diving.

Our other finalists, with the percentage of votes they received: American swimmer Michael Phelps (15.2%); Athletes who helped fight California’s Proposition 8 eliminating same-sex marriage rights (13.0%); Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt (2.2%); American softball player and Olympic silver medalist Lauren Lappin (1.1%); and WNBA MVP and Rookie of the Year Candace Parker, who did not receive a vote.

Given the political climate in America in 2008, voters chose the athletes who supported Proposition 8 as our Outsports Jerks of the Year. People like the San Diego Chargers’ Jacques Cesaire and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Jeff Kent openly supported anti-gay discrimination with their words and their wallets.

Our other finalists: New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress (22.5%); Soccer fans and executives who showed their homophobic colors (11.3%); TV and Radio host Jim Rome (8.5%); NBC Sports, which failed to mention the sexual orientation of Matthew Mitcham (8.5%); the Chinese Olympic Committee (7.0%).

Past winners:

Outsports People of the Year
2008 – Matthew Mitcham, Australian diver
2007 – John Amaechi, former NBA player; and Anthony Castro, former high school quarterback
2006 – Roger Federer, professional tennis player

Outsports Jerks of the Year
2008 – Pro-Prop 8 Athletes
2007 – Michael Vick, former NFL quarterback
2006 – Rene Portland, former Penn State women’s basketball coach