Loyal readers, you’re well aware this is the first ever Yadam Seven 7′s, a special list prepared for your reading enjoyment where 7 contributors will unleash a cascade of 7 lists of what they believe best exemplifies 2012. I’d like to personally introduce the third article: Athlete of the Year.
By Adam Bross
Perhaps “it” was the unparalleled speed when she’s dashing to the goal. Perhaps “it” was the tantalizing smile and shining blue eyes. Most likely “it” was the pink sports bra underneath some translucent white uniforms. Whether “it” was simply one of these factors or a phenomenal combination of all three, “it” certainly was the mesmerizing of an entire country by soccer beauty Alex Morgan. During the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, fans waited anxiously for Alex to enter the game as America’s late game energizer. During the United States redemption run through the Olympics, however, Morgan went from anticipated super-sub to one of the world’s best players. Morgan finished with a team high 4 assists and scored 3 goals. She also had the ultimate moment of the Olympic tournament, providing the go-ahead goal via headball in the 123rd minute against Canada in the semifinals. Alex Morgan may not have been as visibly amazing as other athletes this year, but Alex Morgan has become one of the most idolized athletes in the country and provides the first prominent female role model since Mia Hamm. Hamm has been called by some the most important athlete of the 2000’s for becoming the first romanticized female athlete in the United States. In today’s society, there is still an extreme disparity between the amount of women athletes who are romanticized and male athletes who are romanticized. Morgan has become the most impressive and glamorized woman athlete since Hamm retired from the game. To paraphrase the usual cliché, men want Alex Morgan and women want to be Alex Morgan. A woman who has garnered the attention of a world both on and off the field? That is criteria for becoming the year’s most influential athlete. Hamm was undeniably one of the most important athletes for an entire decade; ergo, why is it farcical to call Alex Morgan the most important athlete of 2012?
By Cameron Conrad
This past summer, at the 2012 London Olympics, Missy Franklin won four gold medals (two individually and two in relays), and she also won a bronze medal in a relay. She holds the world record in the 200 meter backstroke and her relay team holds the world record in the 4×100 medley relay, both set in the 2012 Olympics. It blows my mind that there is someone that is seventeen years old that is the best in the world at something. Not only is Missy the best in the world, she holds two world records and is the greatest of all time in two swimming events. She even qualified for the Beijing Olympic Trials at age 13 when she placed 37th in one of the events! Okay, I realize that genetically Franklin was built to move through the pool like a sailfish; she’s 6’1” with a 6’4” wingspan, wears a size 13 shoe, and can palm a basketball. But I still think it’s crazy that she’s the best in the world in multiple events when there are swimmers who have 8-10 years of experience and training on Franklin, but still can’t beat her. Missy is also dedicated to her education. She rejected endorsement deals and monetary bonuses from USA swimming to maintain amateur status in order to swim in college at University of California Berkeley. I’m sure we can expect many more gold medals from Missy in future Olympics. And in case you haven’t seen it before, Missy is featured in the USA Swim Team’s Call Me Maybe video.
By Vince Kampel
Alright, first, I have to send some props Jeremy Lin’s way. Think back, way back to early 2012. Yeah, you remember: Linsanity. Linsanity was exactly what its name suggests: insane. An unknown, undrafted Harvard grad was putting up ridiculous numbers and leading his team to victory without the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire in New York City, of all places. Linsanity swept the nation for days, turned weeks, turned months. Jeremy Lin and his on-court performance were overexposed and aggrandized in way that only New York City itself could warrant. After a while, I started hating Lin, not because of anything he had done to me personally, but because I couldn’t watch Sportscenter without seeing/hearing his name every twenty minutes. This is the same reason I have grown to hate Mark Sanchez, but that’s a tale for another day. The most frustrating part for me was to see a man’s race fuel so much exposure and attention, when in reality he’s just as American as you or I. However, this is not why Jeremy Lin is my Athlete of 2012. I encourage you to build/obtain a time machine. First, I congratulate you, that’s quite the feat. Second, take a trip to a public basketball court in 2011. Back already? Good. Among your many observations, you probably noticed a distinct lack of people of Asian descent. Not surprising, without making any sweeping generalizations, Asians represent a small minority of basketball-playing Americans, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Ever since Lin’s extravagant NBA entrance, many Asian men have decided basketball is a game that looks pretty neat. Has this sensation had a positive or negative effect on our great nation? Not particularly, no. But trust me, it’s noticeable. I go to The Ohio State University, a university with many students of Asian descent. Every time I’m playing basketball in a rec or outside, Asian young men are a constant. I don’t consider myself a racist or bigot for believing this is Lin’s impact; I know it’s just the cold hard truth. And in my opinion, inspiring an entire culture of people to pick up basketball is quite the influence. Enough to earn my title of Athlete of 2012. Last but certainly not least, Lin’s time in New York gave rise to one of the cleverest headlines I’ve ever read. After a Knicks’ loss where Lin played one of his poorer games with nine turnovers, an ESPN.com headline read “Chink in the Armor”, a hilariously punny but unforgiveably racist mistake that cost one ESPN editor his job.
By Jack Marcheschi
LeBrick, LeQuit, and LeChoke were all names NBA superstar LeBron James was used to being called before last June. Now, though, I prefer to call him LeChampion; or at least LeBestPlayerofOurGeneration. Finally, in 2012, LBJ showed all of his doubters why he is the best player in the NBA, and has been for years. (Kobe passed the torch to him years ago, but that’s another article.) He took home a Regular Season MVP, the Larry O’Brein Trophy, a Finals MVP, and a Gold Medal for the USA in the span of about 3 months. The only other player in the history of professional basketball to accomplish such a feat, you ask? You guessed it: His Airness, Michael Jordan. King James etched his name into the lore of the NBA with his incredible 2012 post-season. He torched opposing defenses for 30.3 points , dished out 5.6 assists, and hauled in 9.7 rebounds per contest. Not to mention historical performances like his 45 point, 15 rebound, and 5 assist effort against the Celtics at The Garden on the brink of Elimination in Game Six, and his 40 point, 18 rebound, and 9 assist effort against the Indiana Pacers to bring a series back to tie when their lone big-man, Chris Bosh was out with a strained abdomen. Whatever sticky situations the Miami Heat were caught in last season, LeBron found a way to carry his team out of the mire, while putting them on his back. In my opinion, LeBron James is the sportsmen of 2012, and no one else even comes close.
By Matthew Murphy
Now with Manti Te’o, I could write about a lot of things: how he should’ve been the first true defensive player to win the coveted Heisman, how he has good stats, how he’s the most decorated college football player of all time. But I’m going to talk about one day that proved he should be recognized as the best athlete of 2012, regardless of whether or not Notre Dame wins the national championship. On September 11 of this year, Manti Te’o’s grandmother died quickly followed by his girlfriend’s death from leukemia within the same 24 hour span. Most people would shudder at the thought of playing against Michigan State on the day of your girlfriend’s funeral four days after her death, but Te’o had promised her that he would not miss a game on her account. So play he did with a level of masculinity that probably hasn’t been seen in college football before. He record 12 tackles, 7 of which were unassisted, and 2 interceptions. The passion he played with was amazing, and I’ll leave you with a quote from the day of his girlfriend’s funeral to sum up the awesomeness of Manti Te’o: “All she wanted was some white roses. White is her favorite color. So she just wanted some white roses and that’s all she asked for. So I sent her roses and sent her two picks along with that, so that was good.” He is such a hero.
Robert Griffin III
By Zac Reid
Robert Griffin III is without a doubt the top athlete of 2012. Having won the Heisman Award the year before, and having been drafted 2nd overall in the 2012 draft, there were some pretty high expectations for RGIII. In drafting an “athlete” type quarterback, teams often face the risk of living off of sensational plays and suffering from dire mistakes. But Griffin proved to be possibly the most consistent quarterback in the league. Only 1.3% of his passes were intercepted, setting a rookie record, and with his 7 rushing touchdowns and rookie QB record 815 rushing yards, RGIII only accounted for 2 lost fumbles. It’s not just that he was consistent, he was consistently spectacular. He set the rookie record for passer rating with 102.4, being behind the likes of QB legends Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. In just one season, he boosted himself to the level of the top quarterbacks in the league, and made the previously 5-11 Redskins into a 10-6 playoff team. RGIII is deservingly being expected to win the Rookie of the Year award, despite being surrounded by other record setting QBs Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. He’s an inspiration to many with his outstanding work ethic and respect for the game. Robert Griffin III is without a doubt the top athlete of 2012.
By Ted Schoen
After winning the decathlon at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, King Gustav V told Jim Thorpe, “You, sir, are the world’s greatest athlete”. While at one point Jim Thorpe had this award stripped away, tradition still gives the title of World’s Greatest Athlete to the winner of this event. The decathlon is comprised of ten track and field events over two days of competition. In order to win Olympic gold in this event, an athlete must have an almost supernatural ability. In 2012, not only did Ashton Eaton win gold at London, he also set a new world record in this event. Few people thought anyone would overtake the Czech athlete Roman Šebrle’s score of 9,026, which was set in 2001. However, on June 23, Eaton broke this record under miserable conditions at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, becoming only the second man to score over 9,000 points. Running a 100m dash in 10.2 seconds, long jumping over 27 feet, high jumping almost 7 feet, running 1500m in 4:14, and equally dominating the other six events, Ashton has proven he is one of the most impressive athletes of all-time. Ashton currently holds decathlon bests in 4 of the 10 events: the 100m dash, long jump, 400m, and 110m hurdles. He also holds the world record in the heptathlon (which is not a men’s Olympic event), in which he has heptathlon world bests in 3 of the 7 events. Unlike some events, the decathlon requires multifaceted athletic abilities. Responding to the extremely impressive Usain Bolt and his quote “I’m now a legend. I’m also the greatest athlete to live.”, Ashton’s teammate, Trey Hardee, said in London, “So Ashton doesn’t have to sound selfish or self-centered, Ashton is the best athlete to ever walk the planet, hands down”. At 24 years old, Aston is 6’1”, weights 185 lbs., and is built for battle. Hopefully, we all will be able to witness Eaton compete in many more competitions. There is no doubt Ashton Eaton is an absolute man. He has my vote for the best athlete of 2012, and maybe of all-time.