Thursday, July 14, 2011

Should Jason Belmonte Have Won the ESPY for 2011 Bowler of the Year?

"Of all the award shows, the ESPYs have got to be the dumbest award show there is. First of all, award shows in general are sort of silly and ridiculous and we know they're just for creating publicity, but at least it makes some sort of sense within that framework to have an awards show for movies, or television, because there is no way with those to know which is the best. But when we're talking about sports -they actually play the game. We don't have to give an award to the best team. We know who the best team is - they've already won! That's the great thing about sports, there's a built-in objective mechanism by which we can ascertain who the winners are. But no, you have to win a second time in a tuxedo, and a spokesmodel has to hand you a trophy; that's what's important."
--Bill Maher

"I love John Walsh, and I have a fond feeling for ESPN. But I find the ESPY Awards objectionable. We already have awards. The World Series is an award. An MVP is an award. We don't need more awards. They make up this crap so they can fill time with it - the worst."
--Bill Wolff, former ESPN producer

I apologize for not posting for awhile, but now I'm back and have a lot of news and views to cover. Let me begin with this year's ESPY's. As you may or may not know, the ESPY awards are sports network ESPN's "Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly" awards that go to athletes in a wide variety of sports. The candidates in each sport or category are chosen by the ESPY Select Nominating Committee and then voted on through online fan balloting. The winners are honored on an ESPN television program.

You may be surprised that even though bowling seems to garner little respect in the sports world or among the public at large, there IS an ESPY award for "Best Bowler." I didn't agree with last year's choice of Walter Ray Williams Jr. over Kelly Kulick, but Walter Ray did have a good enough year that his selection wasn't the travesty this year's was.

This year, Jason Belmonte was selected "Bowler of the Year" and received his award on last night's ESPY broadcast. Now Jason has been known to read this blog on occasion, and I want to make it perfectly clear to him and to everyone else that I'm not slamming Belmo when I say that he didn't deserve to win the award. As I think I've made very clear on this blog, I stand in awe of Belmo's talent and skill and think he's one of the best bowlers on the planet and destined to get better and better still. However, I don't see any way in proverbial hell that he was this season's "best bowler."

If we look at the PBA Tour stats, at least three bowlers on tour had better seasons that Belmo did. Of course, there was PBA Player of the Year Mika Koivuniemi. But there were also Chris Barnes, who led the Tour in overall points, and Bill O'Neill, who surpassed Belmo in every statistical category. So, why did Belmo get the award?

I have to think it's because people voted without looking at the stats or caring what they revealed. I have to conclude that, at least so far as bowling is concerned, the ESPY award for "Best Bowler" was the result of a popularity contest or, perhaps, a coordinated voting campaign and not the result of an informed and reasoned pick of the highest performing bowler of the year.

I'm guessing that Jason knows this as well as anyone and is not as happy about his award as he'd like to be. I'm sure he'd like to know, in his heart of hearts, that he deserved it. But the one good thing about it is that it seems to show that the Bottlegate episodes have not significantly lessened his popularity with the bowling public. Nor should they.

Do you believe that Belmo deserved to win this year's ESPY award, and, if not, who do you think DID deserve it?


  1. I think he deserved it, but only because I also think very little of the ESPYs. An ESPY Award means nothing, and as I wrote today, Belmonte, based on bowling alone, didn't deserve the award over any of the other three nominees. So, if I thought of the Best Bowler ESPY as actually meaning "the best bowler," then no, he doesn't deserve it. If we were talking about the PBA Player of the Year Award, then this would be a travesty. But this is an ESPY.

    Because I realize the awards are voted on by the viewers, and one viewer's criteria is completely different from the next, I don't see any harm in holding what I consider to be a popularity contest. How many of those who voted do you think actually can envision all four of the nominees? How many have even seen those names?

    In summary, I don't see the ESPY as actually representing the best bowler, but as representing the most popular bowler. And, in that respect, I can't argue, as the man with the most votes is the most popular. So, yes, Belmonte deserved it. But Koivuniemi rightfully earned the real best-bowler award, the PBA Player of the Year Award.

  2. Let's see Blowmo stick his thumb and the ball and do it the right way. Otherwise, he can take his thumb and go 'down-under' with it.

  3. I don't know if you're THE Ernie Schlegel or not, but why do you say that bowlers should have to put their thumbs in the ball? Give us your best argument for this.