Thrill of Victory

If they gave Oscars for sports

There are no Academy Awards for sports, but as I was watching the Oscar presentations on Sunday night, something occurred to me: there should be. So, here are my picks for Sports Oscars for 2012.

Best Picture
There were all kinds of bad-news stories that could be made into movies, but few of them would capture America’s attention like the good-news story of the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin and his remarkable run from afterthought to NBA star.

Lin did not have a single basketball scholarship offer out high school, and ended up at Harvard without any guarantees that he’d play. One Harvard assistant’s initial assessment of Lin was that he was “a Division III player.” By his senior season, he was an all-conference player, and though he did not get drafted, made the Golden State roster his first year out of college. But the Warriors cut him the next year, and then the Rockets soon did as well.

The Knicks signed him before last season and gave him little playing time before almost jettisoning him as well. But on a whim last February, New York decided to give him significant playing time in a game, and he scored 25 points, had seven assists and five rebounds. By the next game, he was the starter at point guard, and during the next seven days he averaged 27 points and nine assists over four games. A national phenomenon known “Linsanity” was born, even though his season did end with a knee injury.

Best Foreign Language Film
The 2011-12 Vanderbilt men’s basketball team, which went 25-11 and won the Southeastern Conference Tournament by beating Kentucky, featured players from Nigeria (Festus Ezeli), Cameroon (James Siakam and Steve Tchiengang) and Sweden (Jeffery Taylor).

Best Live Action Short Film
This Oscar goes to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt for his 2012 Olympic performance. First, Bolt won the 100-meter dash with an Olympic-record time of 9.63 seconds. Then, he won the 200 with a 19.32-second performance. Finally, he anchored the Jamaicans in the 4 x 100-meter relay as the team broke a world record with a 36.84-second time. He’d also won all three events at the 2008 Games.

Best Actor
This must go to the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, who after being outed by the Mitchell Report for failing a steroid test back in 2003, looked everyone in the eye and swore he only used drugs between 2001 and 2003. Well, guess what? Rodriguez’s name was splashed all over a recent report by the Miami New Times tying him to using a handful of banned substances. Nice act, A-Rod; even your own team doesn’t believe you after it spent part of the winter looking at ways it it could void your contract.

It’s hard to do better than San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, who led the Giants to their second World Championship in three seasons last fall. The Giants were 7.5 games out of first by May, and despite being down 2-0 to the Reds in the National League Division Series (a best-of-5 match), the Giants won the last three games on the road. They then trailed 3-1 to the Cardinals in a best-of-7 series in the National League Championship Series before winning that, too, and then swept Detroit in the World Series.

Costume design
There aren’t a lot of bad uniforms in professional sports, and there are a number of classic looks in college football (Auburn, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio State and UCLA) that come to mind as great ensembles as well. But with apologies to the Cardinals, Texans and Red Wings, it’s hard to beat the New York Yankees and their classic pinstripe uniforms with the iconic “NY” hat logo. The Yankees haven’t changed their look in forever, and if you look that good, why should you?

Makeup and Hairstyling
The tempting pick would be the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu for his long, curly locks, but whatever Tom Brady does with his hair on any given day (and as this shows, it changes often) seems to be working for him. Hey, the guy’s won three Super Bowls and married a supermodel…

Visual Effects
Check out this photo gallery from the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics; it speaks for itself.