Fans of former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis are mad he lost out on the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
Earlier this week, ESPN announced the winners of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, an award that goes to athletes or personalities in sports for overcoming great adversity, and boy, fans were mad when former Cleveland Browns’ running back Peyton Hillis wasn’t named the recipient. Past winners of the award include Jimmy Valvano, Patt Tillman, George Weah, and Robin Roberts to name a few.
Arguably, it’s Valvano’s win and subsequent speech that really propelled the award. He was the first recipient of it and easily gave one of the best speeches in the history of public speaking. For many, it’s an award that means something and should be given to those who truly personify courage.
So when the folks at ESPN gave it to the United States Womens National Team, fans were mad, as they believed there was a better option; former Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis.
The women got the award due to their fight for a better contract. It was a fight that most people supported. It didn’t hurt that the people who handled the negotiations with the women didn’t curry any favor from the mainstream, and in turn, they basically bumbled the whole thing. Thereby giving the women a brand new contract that gave the men’s team and women’s team the same amount earned and the same types of perks (like child care).
It’s at the cost of how much the men can earn, but still. It was a negotiation that saw most of the mainstream world take the side of the women. They had all the support and very little risk.
It’s fair to say the women risked nothing by protesting the pay, all while some dispute the pay was never unequal, to begin with.
Hillis, on the other hand, nearly died trying to save the lives of three people. His son, niece, and sister were pulled out into a riptide, and Hillis swam out and saved all three; starting with his niece, then his son, and then his sister (his niece’s mother). He quite literally risked everything and nearly died doing so.
If the award is about “courage”, there is no debate about who deserved it.
Peyton Hillis deserved the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage
There is a debate online about if Hillis deserved the award as well. Some claim that the United States Women’s National Team are current, active athletes at the top of their game, so they deserve the award. But that’s not how the award has ever been handed out.
The award is never about how is a current athlete, coach, or otherwise. It’s about when their moment of courage transpired.
Just look at the award itself, Arthur Ashe himself retired in 1980 and had the award named for him in 1993. Muhamed Ali last fought in 1981, but won it in 1997. Billie Jean King retired in 1990 but won it in 1999. Nelson Mandela never played a sport but was awarded the 2009 Arthur Ashe Award for his involvement in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. 2009 was also when the movie based on this moment, Invictus, premiered.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver rightfully won the award for her work starting the Special Olympics, but only received it in 2017, eight years after she passed and 49 years after she started the event.
So anyone complaining about Hillis not having played in nine years really have no idea about the award. It has nothing to do with when you last played, and everything to do about when you made an impact worthy enough of being acknowledged; as long as ESPN could properly market the award that season.
I’m happy the women got their new contract. I’m happy that Hillis and his family are still here and I hate the idea that the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage is only for one person. The award should be for a group of people each year who do something miraculous. It shouldn’t be reserved for just one person as if it’s a Super Bowl trophy.
More people need to be highlighted and focused on with this award.
- Published on 06/30/2023 at 23:58 PM
- Last updated at 06/30/2023 at 23:59 PM