Oral Tracey Column

first_imgThe dissenting voices against Usain Bolt being voted the 2015 Male Athlete of the Year across all sports by members of the international media ahead of tennis’ Novak Djokovic, football’s Lionel Messi, and Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton are relatively few but quite fervent.I too would have voted for Bolt to win this award, not because he is a Jamaican, but because of the impact of his performances at the World Championships.Indeed, I am shocked that the American decathlete, Ashton Eaton, was given the nod ahead of Bolt for the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year, but that is a separate issue.The core argument being put forward is that Bolt was not by any stretch of the imagination the most consistent athlete across all sports in 2015. Certainly, he was not more consistent than Djokovic, who won three of the four available grand slam titles and lost in the final of the other, therefore, Bolt should not have received this award.Just listening to this debate unfold, it confirms a fundamental deficiency in the analysis of sports performances in terms of impact and the magnitude of one performance relative to another.CONSISTENCY ARGUMENTThe notion seems to be that performances at the top in one sport automatically make that performance equal to the top performances in other sports. Nothing could be further from the truth. Winning three grand slam titles in tennis is hardly equivalent to winning three gold medals at the World championships.Not surprisingly, these are by and large the same voices that have been attempting to use the same flawed premise to make the case that Messi is the greatest footballer of all time based on his consistent performances season after season for his club.Again, there is a conspicuous inability or unwillingness to properly reconcile Messi’s excellent club achievements with his abysmal international failures. The simplistic thinking is that he is consistent week in, week out, so he is the best, with no regard for the magnitude of big-day performances.What the journalists across the world saw in Bolt’s performances in Beijing was enough impact in those big performances to outweigh all other performances.Who remembers that Novak won three grand slams?BIGGESTRACEOFTHEDECADEWe all remember vividly, though, that Bolt won the biggest race of the decade, repelling the threat of the drug-tainted Justin Gatlin and all that a victory for the American might have meant to the very credibility of the sport, thus the school of thought that Bolt not only retained his 100 metres title, but effectively saved the sport of track and field.These are the intangibles, the context and perspective about a particular performance which cannot be ‘Googled’ and will not show up on the stats sheet.Bolt does not have to compete every week on the Diamond League circuit to be crowned the Male Athlete of the Year. This award, after all, is not a consistency award.If there is a global event such as the World Championships and Bolt performed the way he did in Beijing in 2015, the sheer magnitude of those performances would have decimated all other performances on the relatively smaller stages provided by the other sports.That is why most of the astute international sports journalists across the globe quite rightly voted for the ‘Big Man’ as 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.Neither my fellow journalists nor I can be held responsible for anyone’s inability to grasp that simple principle.last_img

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