Why Do We Need Awards In Sports?

This clearly meant a lot to Ronaldo, but if Messi was fit all season would he have still got it?  Source: forzafutbol.com

This clearly meant a lot to Ronaldo, but if Messi was fit all season would he have still got it? Source: forzafutbol.com

People love rewarding others for their success. Since we were praised by the teachers at school, we all enjoy a pat on the back and a job well done when it’s deserved, it’s human nature to want to feel valued. However, after recent releases of the FIFA XI, the Pro Bowlers and the current votes in the All-Star game, there’s a feeling that regardless of who helps pick who wins they get it wrong.

Probably the best of the bunch is the Pro Bowl voting, mainly because the size of the squad and the accolade is even between actual starters and bench players. There were a few difficult omissions, I felt Muhammad Wilkerson had to be in there somewhere, Lavonte David must have been close and Alshon Jeffery deserves huge credit but it was mostly right (leaving out my Mike Scifres as punter bias, but he is boss).

It's a shame Alshon Jeffery's excellent season will not be rewarded.  Source: Sports Illustrated

It’s a shame Alshon Jeffery’s excellent season will not be rewarded. Source: Sports Illustrated

There is a few favourable ones, Andre Johnson was nowhere near brilliant consistently, Troy Polamalu was only good on occasion and offensive lineman tend to get by on name alone, but it’s more the format that’s the issue this year. It’s surprising, since they usually have a few really bad ones, that it’s been actually a decent Pro Bowl voting year even though it’s voted by the viewers.

However, the issue with fan voting is it can turn up some absolute stinkers and it’s the most evident in the current voting for the All-Star game. At the moment of writing, Kobe Bryant leads the voting for guards in the West and whilst he’s a certainty to be a Hall of Famer, he couldn’t be further away from being an All-Star this year.

He’s barely played and when he has he’s still tended to struggle. Kobe himself took to twitter to ask fans to vote for someone else to start since he won’t be fit in time to play anyway, which is actually pretty commendable.

When even Kobe's asking you to stop, it's getting silly.  Source: Washington Post

When even Kobe’s asking you to stop, it’s getting silly. Source: Washington Post

This is where fan voting can hurt things like this, All-Star nominations somehow can count towards a HoF CV and the fact it’s essentially a popularity contest makes that seem ridiculous. The fan culture tells people to vote for their player regardless of how they’ve done and because the Lakers have the most fans, Kobe gets in.

Where fans vote it can turn into favouritism and unfortunately it’s no difference when the professionals are allowed to do it. Just look at the FIFA XI, with just three players from the Champions League winner and none from the runners up.

Could Lewandowski have done more to be in the FIFA XI this year? Or Reus? Or Gundogan?  Source: The Telegraph

Could Lewandowski have done more to be in the FIFA XI this year? Or Reus? Or Gundogan? Source: The Telegraph

It gets even more ridiculous looking at who voted for the Ballon D’or, with players not picking others simply due to friendship rather than honesty. So crazy, in fact, that Casillas finished second in the FIFA XI voting having only played three La Liga games all year after being dropped for Diego Lopez which is simply absurd.

In the end, I feel that votes like this don’t just discredit those that have done so well and haven’t been chosen but are also tainted by the fact it’s essentially a popularity contest. We should just appreciate things as being great without having to shower everyone with awards, because it becomes a farce when we do.

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