SI's Response to the Public's Backlash - A Response Done in Poor Taste

December 14, 2015 11:20am

It would seem that Sports Illustrated is not pleased at the backlash their decision, to crown Serena Williams the SI Sportsman of the Year, has received. Just before 12:30pm, they posted a story titled “American Pharoah Congratulates Serena Williams”. The article features a picture of the Thoroughbred Racing Grand Slam Champion in a video, where he “speaks” his congratulations to Serena Williams. The article also states that despite Williams having one of the most dominant schedules in recent history, the public was mad, as if they didn’t have a reason to be angry.

That being the case, let us recount the facts of the situation.

1.) Sports Illustrated had the fans vote on who they thought should win the cover. American Pharoah was a runaway winner, garnering 47% of the votes. Then not only did Sport Illustrated snub him, they completely ignored the Kansas City Royals, who were a clear second place in the poll. Serena Williams, by comparison, only had 1% of the vote. That, right there, would be just cause for anyone to become angry.

2.) Sports Illustrated made a point about Williams’ dominant season. To that point, I ask, what part of the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, and the only Triple Crown winner to ever win the Breeders’ Cup Classic isn’t dominant? Sprinkle in victories in the the Arkansas Derby(G1) and Haskell Invitational(G1), and you have one of the most historic and dominant seasons in Thoroughbred Racing history. So, yes, the public is a bit miffed.

While it is infuriating that American Pharoah did not win the award, what is the most infuriating is that Sports Illustrated went completely against what the connections of American Pharoah have said in regards to Williams winning the award, in the article.

Both Ahmed and Justin Zayat took to Twitter when they found out the results of Sports Illustrated’s  Sportsman of the Year Award. Ahmed Zayat tweeted “ROBBED. ROBBED. ROBBED.”, while his son tweeted “Total BS @SInow @SITimLayden Why have a poll if you totally ignore it? Serena FAILED at winning the Grand Slam. AP (American Pharoah) a once in a lifetime horse.

When asked if Sports Illustrated had gotten the Zayat’s permission to say such things, using a picture featuring their champion, Justin Zayat replied “No, they didn’t.”

It would seem that this article made as a response (one done in poor taste) to the backlash they are receiving. I have one question for Sports Illustrated. What else did you expect? You ignored the majority of the public and snubbed two much more deserving contenders. What did you expect would happen after that?

You deserve every bit of criticism thrown your way and more. It was your choice to go against the public and yours alone. You brought the backlash upon yourselves, now deal with it with some class.


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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college, she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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