The day after the Major League Baseball All-Star game is one of only two days on the calender where there are no major professional sport’s games scheduled. So ESPN has seized that day as an opportunity to do an annual award show, the ESPYs.
Started in 1993, the show has grown in size and stature much like ESPN. There are awards given in a variety of categories, some so similar it’s impossible to differentiate (best moment and best play?). Others, like the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and the Arthur Ashe Courage award, take the focus off sports.
This year’s event was held Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl received the Jimmy V award, named after former NCAA basketball coach Jim Valvano. Karl is battling throat and neck cancer. The Courage award was given to the family of Ed Thomas, the Aplington-Parkersburg (Iowa) coach who was killed in the school’s weight room by one of his former players.
Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was the big winner on the night. He took home four awards: Male Athlete of the Year, Best NFL player, Best Championship Performance and a shared award for Best Team.
Landon Donovan of the U.S soccer team won three awards: Best Performance Under Pressure, Best Moment (for his game-winning goal in the World Cup against Algeria) and Best MLS Player.
But despite having the best moment and the best pressure performance, the U.S.-Algeria game was not voted Best Game. That honor went to the Olympic men’s hockey gold-medal game between the United States and Canada.
Often, the awards did not match up with the sport-specific awards. For example, Sidney Crosby was named Best NHL Player despite not winning the NHL’s MVP award. Likewise, Kobe Bryant was the ESPY’s NBA Best Player, not MVP LeBron James and Brees won his award over actual NFL MVP Peyton Manning.