06/23/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Earlier this month, ESPN announced that Bruce Jenner will be the recipient of this years "Arthur Ashe Courage Award" at the networks annual Espy's award show coming up in July. Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner has been determined to be the most courageous act of anyone involved in the world of sports showing courage in the real world. As "Stone Cold" Steve Austin used to say...What???
But after my initial "what" reaction, reality set in. The criticism of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner receiving an Espy award is exactly what ESPN wants...attention. Look, winning an Espy isn't exactly the same thing as winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It's not even on the level of winning an Oscar or an Emmy. It's an award from a network that created it's own awards for it's own awards show.
That's where the ridiculousness of this continues though. I have no problem or issue with Bruce Jenner becoming a woman. I have no problem or issue with anyone being transgender. We all have the right to be who we want to be, and if that requires a sex change for someone to find themselves and be happy, more power to them. But with Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner being so overexposed in the media lately, what message does that send? Is it a message of courage? Or a message of exploitation? With a photo spread in Vanity Fair released the day before ESPN announced Jenner as the Ashe Award recipient, it sure reeks of exploitation to me.
Now if we're going to treat the Ashe Award as something of value that does represent courage, here's my problem with Jenner receiving it. Bruce Jenner hasn't done anything in sports since winning an Olympic gold medal in 1976. The only recent news he/she has made lately is by going through a very drawn out and very public sex change. Well actually, there is some other news Jenner was recently involved in. In February, Jenner was involved in a fatal auto accident. Suspected negligence on Jenner's part is being considered as the cause of the crash, and on the horizon looms a potential wrongful death lawsuit and perhaps even vehicular manslaughter charges against Jenner pending on what the investigation turns out. So let's take the courage it took for Jenner to have a gender change in the media spotlight out of the equation. If winning the Arthur Ashe Award is going to be considered as something esteemed, you can't morally give the award to someone who's negligent driving may have resulted in someone else's death.
If ESPN wants the sporting world and beyond to take the Espy's, and especially this award for courage seriously, you can't give it to Jenner. He hasn't been involved in sports in nearly four decades. The publicity of his sex change takes away any courage aspect and instead is a media side show. And on top of that, he may be going to jail. There are more deserving candidates for an award that is supposed to represent the most courageous person involved in the world of sports.
Jim Valvano. Muhammad Ali. Pat Tillman. Those are the names of some of the previous winners of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Sorry, but Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner changing gender in front of the world just doesn't fit the bill of courage that the above mentioned names showed.
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