No respect for Hutch and Christine
The awarding of Canada's athlete of the year is always controversial. Selected by a small panel of sports media elites the selections often feel like lectures about who Canadians should support, rather than who they do support.
Olympic athletes almost always win in Olympic years. In 2008 the committee went one step further with the white liberal guilt and gave it to a Paralympics athlete. Depth of field arguments rarely hold water as a gold medallist in trampoline (for instance) seemingly gets more attention than Steve Nash (Nash only won one of the two years he was voted the best basketball player in the best basketball league in the world. Basketball is likely the second most popular sport in the world).
There was a 13 year period without a hockey winner. Hockey. In Canada. You may be aware that us Canucks do all right in that sport. The idea that for 13 straight years there was a better athlete in Canada than the best hockey player is ludicrous. Lately the voting committee has felt the pressure and has tried to consider all athletes, whether they are rich pros or hardworking Olympians a little more equal. Sidney Crosby has won two of the last three awards and will be in the running this year as well after scoring one of the biggest goals in Canadian hockey history (it's No 3 in case you are wondering) in Vancouver.
The debate of pros versus (Olympic) Joes is especially loud this year as in addition to Crosby there are a couple other big names that deserve to be considered -- NL MVP and Sports Illustrated cover boy Joey Votto would be my pick, but NHL playoff MVP Jonathan Toews will get some attention too.
Who won't get any attention that should are two soccer players - Christine Sinclair and Atiba Hutchinson. A soccer player has never won the award (two shooters, two wheelchair racers and a harness racer have).
As stated, I'd pick Votto. What he did this year while playing at the highest level his sport offers is impressive. However, it's also impressive being named the MVP of a European soccer league and being one of the top 10 women's soccer players in the world.
It would be nice if the committee would recognize both players -- who excel at a sport played by millions more than play hockey -- by including them in their final debate. The fact that Hutchinson wasn't even included on a list produced by the Toronto Star this week for readers to vote in an online poll says a lot. Sinclair is the better bet, but she'll need a champion on the committee.
Hopefully a soccer player can break through and win this before they go back to another synchronized swimmer.