What’s the Deal with Reputation?
February 2, 2011 6 Comments
Sometimes a reputation can mean everything in life. It can determine how much you like a person before you meet them. It can be the difference in getting a job between you and that other guy. Oh yeah, reputation can also be the deciding factor in receiving an award.
Not to take anything away from the great Troy Polamalu, but yesterday he undeservingly won the defensive player of the year award. He edged out Clay Matthews, who was thought to be the consensus top defensive player this year, and was even mentioned in MVP talks. Guess not.
It’s obvious, Troy Polamalu won on reputation.
There is no doubt that Polamalu is an outstanding player, possibly the best defensive player in the NFL. Troy Polamalu epitomizes what a game changer should be while his 63 total tackles and 7 interceptions prove that. However, the fact of the matter is that this award is given out based on a single season of play, not on career achievements.
Clay Matthews had a better season hands down. Matthews had 14 sacks, 60 tackles, an interception and gave offensive coordinators fits each and every week with his relentless pressure. Furthermore, Polamalu missed two games during the season, in which his team went 1-1, whereas Matthews missed none. It isn’t Polamalu’s fault that he missed 2 games because of injury. Nevertheless, it does diminish the impact of his season and should have impacted his standing in the race for this award.
The problem is that this isn’t the first time that a player has won based on reputation. This is an occurrence that happens all too often in professional sports. The players who have not “paid their dues” are discounted by voters who favour the sexier, more well-known choice.
Each year, Derek Jeter is given the gold glove despite his declining defensive play, mainly his range or lack thereof. Jeter is often voted by players as the most overrated player in baseball, yet award voters continue to favour him.
Why? Jeter is the poster boy for not only the New York Yankees but also Major League Baseball. There isn’t a guy with a more stand up reputation than Derek Jeter as he is one of the most renowned sports figures in North America.
Moreover, it is apparent that many voters simply fail to open their eyes to what is going on around them. There are at least 30 teams in 4 major North American sports and deserving players for these lesser, yet still important, awards are overlooked because of ignorance. It is difficult to keep an eye to what is going on around the league, but it by no means is impossible.
It isn’t nearly as common to see more clear-cut awards, such as MVP, go completely in the wrong direction because generally the players in the running for those awards either have already built up a reputation as a great player, which is why they are up for the award, or the player has received so much national exposure because of the fact that he is in the running for the award.
Troy Polamalu may be a great player, but his national coverage as a result of his Head and Shoulders commercials sure hasn’t hurt his reputation and has caused him to be an even greater sensation in the NFL. For your consideration, Troy Polamalu’s jersey is the #1 selling jersey in the NFL.
Former CFLer and current Miami Dolphin Cameron Wake did not even receive a single vote with regards to the defensive player of the year award. However, he was named to Peter King’s all-pro team, finished the season with 14 sacks, the second most tackles for loss, and drew the most holding calls of any player in the league. It’s a shame that he is a virtual unknown around the league compared to guys like Ed Reed, James Harrison, Julius Peppers and of course Troy Polamalu.
It’s much more straightforward for voters to go with the players who have garnered a premiere status in their respective league. Not nearly as much controversy is likely to come about when you go with a guy who is highly respected around the league.
Pavel Datsyuk won his 3rd consecutive Frank J. Selke award last season as the NHL’s best defensive (two-way) forward. He edged out Vancouver Canuck forward Ryan Kesler by 33 total points and 1 first place vote. I may be biased here, as I am a Vancouver fan and am privileged to watch Kesler on a night-to-night basis, but it seems to me that if it was Kesler with the 2 prior Selke trophies he would have taken the award home last year.
This effect of reputation is just another one of those sad facts of life. Has a teacher ever gotten mad at you for talking in class even though it was someone else?
To a smaller extent, even something as simple as all-star games exhibit this fact. Fans vote in their favourites and their choice is largely based on popularity, the cousin of reputation. In recent years, a situations like Allen Iverson, in which he was voted as an Eastern Conference starter last season, takes away a spot from an actual deserving all-star.
It flat out isn’t fair that players are repeatedly rewarded based on things that they have accomplished in the past. It isn’t fair to the fans but most importantly it isn’t fair to the athletes that work their ass off their entire life only to be snubbed (not to say that the recipient of the award hasn’t worked hard either). A player who hasn’t built up that reputation may only have the one season of greatness, but it may not be recognized by the voters whose narrow-minds keep them from acknowledging the truly deserving athletes.
Figure it out.
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