Jeff Pearlman

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Derek Jeter, SI’s Sportsman of the Year


Over the past few years, I’ve had problems with some of the athletes Sports Illustrated picked (and failed to pick) as its Sportsman of the Year. In particular, I was dumbfounded in 2006 when the magazine gave the award to Dwayne Wade, an excellent basketball player, over Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player in the sport’s history (and a man who has yet to earn the nod—an unfathomable oversight). I thought that decision truly lowered the award’s status. It truly did.

This year, however, I can’t argue: Derek Jeter was named Sportsman of the Year today, and it’s a wonderful pick. Is Jeter the best player in the game? No. Is he in his prime? Probably not. But at a time when sports have become overly commercialized, overly gimmicky, overly … everything, Jeter represents the virtues that draw us all to athletics in the first place: Passion. Love. Heart. His professionalism is to be admired; his approach emulated. As I wrote earlier, he is the Joe DiMaggio of the modern game.

I applaud the decision, and I applaud the man.

Great choice.

  • You know Minka Kelly would secretly prefer it went to Tim Riggins.

  • I’d go with Usain Bolt. Passion. Love. Heart. And Absolute Destruction of World Records With What Looks Like Complete Ease.

  • Mood

    Overly commercial? Isn’t he in those commercials with that other paragon of decency, Tiger Woods? Can we please stop thinking we can look into the souls of pro athletes and judge them on their on the field performance.Well, unless they have calm eyes I guess.

  • Ted


  • Robert

    As a Yankees fan, I love Jeter, but what has he done for the world of sports for 2009?
    He had a good year. He didn’t get arrested or caught on TMZ doing anything stupid.
    As the captain of the Yankees he has been squishy – in the public eye, he doesn’t stand up for his players.
    How has Jeter demonstrated Sportsmanship in 2009?

  • donna

    Robert sounds like a Red Sox fan.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life