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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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