Barry Laminack's View

Can we talk about the SI Sports”person” of the Year Award?

Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt are sports people. Sports Illustrated

Also appears on Houstonsportsandstuff.com

As Disco Biscuit wrote about in her December 5th update, JJ Watt and Jose Altuve are the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson(s) of the Year for 2017. According to this post by the editors of Sports Illustrated, the purpose of the award is to showcase, “Athletes who care” – more on that in a bit.

First off all, I’m not sure why both Altuve AND Watt needed to win this. It should have been one or the other, not both, but I digress…

I’m also not sure why S.I. felt the need to change the word “sportsman” to “sportsperson.” It’s a specific word with a specific meaning – and in this case using the word sportsman – as defined by dictionary.com as, “a man who engages in sports”, would have been relevant and accurate because the winners are men.

Had S.I. chosen to give Maya Moore the award (who was also very deserving, mind you) then they could have just as well put “Sportswoman of the Year” on the cover and been just as accurate and precise in doing so.

Let’s look at it another way

Dictionary.com provides a second definition for the words sportsman, “a person who exhibits qualities especially esteemed in those who engage in sports, as fairness, courtesy, good temper, etc.”

In other words, “Athletes who care.”

Also, did you notice it said “person?”

That’s because in most cases the word sportsman, and thus the words sportsmanship, has nothing to do with gender.

If WNBA star (and female athlete) Diana Taurasi knocked down fellow WNBA star Sue Bird on a strong drive to the hoop, and then after the play reached down to help her up, the announcer wouldn’t say she displayed good sportswomanship, they would say she showed good sportsmanship.

But don’t take my word for it, I asked Google and Dictionary.com to define it for me and this is what they returned:

sportsmanship

dictionary

So while I’m all for inclusion and sensitivity in today’s world (and if you’ve ever listened to me on the radio, you know both of those to be true) there’s a point where we as human be…sorry huperson beings...can take it too far.

SEE HOW STUPID THAT SOUNDS!

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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