Federer Snubbed, Wade Wins SI Sportsman of the Year
by Sean Randall | December 7th, 2006, 10:44 am

I’m sure many of you here in the U.S. have already heard that our top sports mag, Sports Illustrated, has selected Dwayne Wade as its Sportsman of the Year. Wade, a star player for the Miami Heat, beat out among others our boy, Roger Federer.

I read the story yesterday, pretty remarkable, very well done and a very good read. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy or click the link above, it’s well worth it. ADHEREL

The piece was done by their tennis writer, S.L. Price, who along with Jon Wertheim, usually handle the reviews for Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. So Price is very familiar with the tennis landscape. He’s interviewed many of the top guys Roger included and hopefully made a pitch on the Swiss’s behalf somewhere along the process. After all, Roger did just about everything that could have been asked of him in 2006, winning 27 of 28 Slam matches, three Majors plus a Masters Cup to finish a third straight year at No. 1. It’s hard to do better than that in tennis or in just about any other sport.

Now what did Wade do in comparison? Well, I watched in amazement as he lit up the May/June NBA playoffs rallying his Heat to a World Championship.

We all remember Michael Jordan – at least many of us do – and we along with just about everyone else that follows pro hoop have being looking for the next MJ. Well, what Wade did in the playoffs this past year was about as close as we are going to get.

I’m an NBA guy but I wasn’t much of a Wade fan, didn’t really know much about his game until late last spring when on the game’s biggest stage he just took over. When it counted the most, he was money. Kind of like a tennis player I know.

But is what Wade did for those two months greater than what Roger Federer did the entire year? Of course not.

Season vs. season, Federer wins. Even Tiger Woods has an arguement against Wade in that comparison.

All Wade did was carry his Heat team, which also consisted of one the game’s greats in Shaq O’Neal and won one of the best in the league, to their first NBA title.

Meanwhile, Federer won just about everything under the sun in 2006, all by himself.

So how then does SI pick Wade over Federer? Easy.

First off remember we are talking about an American magazine so there’s certainly a national bias in their selection process, though they probably wouldn’t admit to that much. Looking over their past 53 winners very few (maybe four according to my count?) are non-American.

Economics also plays a role. Who would sell more copies of the magazine in the U.S., Wade or Federer? Wade by a landslide.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it’s the story, and that’s where Wade’s got Fed beat big time. Wade’s life story is a very compelling one of growing up poor in the ganglands of Chicago, dealing with the separation of his parents and the fact that his mother, who served multiple sentences in prison, was a druggie.

 “…when Dwayne was born his mother had heard a word, blessing, in her head, and she had wanted that to be his name: Blessing Wade. He was glad it wasn’t, but tried to live up to it. Throughout high school, during three years at Marquette, Wade drove himself to exhaustion because he believed he was her only hope. If he could only break out big, be that kid who rose from welfare – if only she could see him do something special – he could save her.”

It’s your hard-luck kid makes good story. Federer it is not.

And finally it’s history. Has SI ever put Federer on the cover? I don’t recall. But can you name the last male tennis player who when active won the SI Sportsman of the Year since the inception of the honor in the mid 1950s? Bet you can’t because it’s never happened. That’s right. Never. Laver, Borg, McEnroe (imagine him being a “Sportsman”), Lendl, Agassi, Sampras, etc. The last tennis player to win the award was Arthur Ashe in 1992. Before that it was Evert in 1976 and Billie Jean King in 1972. That’s it from the sport of tennis, just three.

So at the end of the day will I cancel my subscription to SI? Absolutely not. While I am disappointed in their selection I can kind of get with why they chose Wade over Federer when you compare their life stories. I just hope they throw Roger some love at some point down the road and give him the proper recognition he deserves even though he isn’t American. I think in time they will…

You Might Like:
SI’s Best Looking Athletes: Snubbing Federer… Again
Federer, Tennis Again Snubbed by Sports Illustrated
Novak Djokovic Wins Fourth Laureus World Sportsman Award
Andy Roddick, Dwayne Wade Split Tennis-HORSE Challenge
Nadal Hand-Signals Way to 1st ATP Sportsmanship Award

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

43 Comments for Federer Snubbed, Wade Wins SI Sportsman of the Year

America is the world! Says:

Only Americans bother to notice the Sports Illustrated magazine. The rest of the world only notices it for the swimsuit edition.

Anyway, it’s in keeping with the time-honoured American tradition of titling a local event as “World Event”, e.g., World Series Baseball (or something, the rest of the world can’t bother to notice much. I heard that NBA teams have been losing to European basketball clubs and also that the national team has been repeatedly losing to other teams in several international competitions.)

Federer has already realised that he doesn’t care much whether America notices him or not. He won’t be disappointed. It’s not as if Sports Illustrated is anything like the Laureas Association.

Maria P Says:

If there ever was a year to give a tennis player this award, 2006 is the year. Even sports fan who don’t follow tennis know this is crazy.

PM Says:

It’s a shame that Roger Federer has never made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated. I’m an American that follows football, baseball,basketball, and hockey. It literally stuns me that the best athlete in the world, RF cannot make a magazine cover. It’s not bias; it’s stupidity!

Glen Janney Says:

Truly terrible on your part. Compare their life stories? That’s what makes Sportsman of the Year? I think Wade himself would cringe to read what you wrote, since your argument has the unwelcome air of Affirmative Action affixed to it.
I live in Miami, was thrilled when the Heat won, argued with buddies all over the country about how Wade went to the line for getting breathed on (I claimed it didn’t happen), but this is a crock. After an undeserving Tom Brady got SI’s award last year and now Dwayne Wade this year, if Roger ever were to get Sportsman of the Year it would enhance SI’s reputation, not his.

kay pointon Says:

After all Roger’s wins and his on and off court personality – he should have been picked for the magazine – not Wade!

Joe bloggs Says:

This is the most biased award in the history of sport. Half of the nominees play in a sport the world do not recognise except America.As usual the world revolves around America, Baseball no one cares,basketball..usa are long way from the best plus who care unless MJ is still playing.

Kashi Vishwanath Says:

Well, if SI chooses to *ignore* RF then all RF, Tennis, and Sports fans should ignore SI. No use complaining here I guess. If someone says 2+2 is 5
then there is only so much you can convince him/her about :-)

GS Says:

Even with my inherit basketball bias (I am a former college basketball player) Wade did not deserve to be SI Sportsman of the Year. I would have even chosen Tiger Woods over Wade. Federer deserved the award hands down! But your argument that among other reasons, he won because it was a better story is not well founded. If you want a sports story, how about Tiger Woods losing his mentor, coach, best friend and father; missing a cut at a major for the first time only to come back and reel off 6 straight PGA wins and finishing second in the non-PGA tournaments. I still get teary eyed watching his emotions pour out onto Steve Williams shoulder after winning the Open Championship. As for the “America is the world” comments, have you seen the NBA lately, almost every team carries a foreign born player, better yet a foreign born player almost carries every NBA team. Baseball is filled with Latin and Asian players and besides the title is SI Sportsman of the Year, not world sportsman of the year!

Mercedes Says:

They should just call it the “American sportsman of the year award”.

rockybalboa Says:

federer dont need the recognition of this stupid magazine

KOM Says:

Don’t waste your indignation, what you guys miss is that the SI award is a comment on tennis itself, not on Roger Federer. He could have won the Grand Slam and would still be snubbed. Until tennis retakes the market share it had in the McEnroe/Borg era, do not expect anything but silence… especially from Mr. Price and the wishy-washy Jon Wertheim, who is lucky to have a job covering tennis. You can tell just how much weight he pulls… it wasn’t long ago when tennis had a subheading on SI’s main web page, now it’s just a buried afterthought, and who can blame SI for that? And, of course, his stupid look-alike segment at the end of his column shows you just how seriously he takes promotion of the sport. What is even more laugable are the pot-shots the various tennis columnists (and here the genteel Mr. Wertheim is innocent) take at each other each week, all while condemning the many different governing bodies of tennis for not pulling together for their sport. No, if you want Roger Federer on the cover of SI, you need to promote professional tennis as the Olympic-level sporting challenge that it is, while conversely making it more popular to play at the fan level by tying in the individual nature of the sport with the (fading) American can-do attitude and with the movement towards combatting obesity in the schools and in the workplace. This brings out the flexible and social nature of the sport as well, which all the player blogs and television coverage in the world will never teach. You have to make something acceptable and normal before it can be loved. Until this happens, look forward to Tennis-x squabbling and hand-wringing for years to come.

Elle Says:

Roger Federer is breaking and setting records here and there. He doesn’t even need to lift a racket for the next two and half months to pass Jim Connors’s record of 160 weeks on being number one. Roger’s fate is sealed. He’s the best tennis player in history. If you don’t agree, please care to compare his records first against Pete Sampras’s or Rod Laver’s.
By the way, to that American Andy Roddick, if you were the better player for 2 sets at the Madrid Masters when you lost to Federer; why did Federer win? Duh???? Admit that you were the loser and with a 1-12 record against the number one tennis player in the world, you need to contemplate on winning the match first before you do that fist pump when Roger is on the other end of the court.

Agassi fan Says:

Same bloody american bias. “World championship” my foot. Americans should first learn the meaning of the word “world”, and learn to differentiate it from the word “country”.

xfactor Says:

Look on the bright side for Roger. No SI cover jinx!

NBA Faqs » Blog Archive » NBA Lineup, December 8 - Rocky Mountain News Says:

[…] NBA Lineup, December 8Rocky Mountain News, CO – 38 minutes agoBY THE NUMBERS. 6 NBA players named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. Miami guard Dwyane Wade won for 2006, after Bill … Federer Snubbed, Wade Wins SI Sportsman of the Year Tennis-X.comKristine Lilly is my Sports Person of the Year Christian Science MonitorMrs. Wade stands by her Sportsman New York Daily NewsSI.com – NBA.comall 26 news articles Copyright © 2006, NBA Faqs | Theme based on design by haran and converted by John Hesch. […]

Vaevictus Says:

Thats just stupid, Federer is head and shoulders above any active sportsperson on the planet…but i do agree that Wade as the pick is gonna sell more copies in America – so the decision is purely commercial – and SI should admit that…Fedex does’nt need SI – he’s already won their stupid Major 3 times in a row..maybe SI should try an teach ‘wannabe’ roddick how to play.

Hrishikesh Says:

It is really sad. I still can’t believe SI chose Dwayne Wade(who?) over Roger Federer. I live in India and here, absoluteley nobody recognizes Wade. This is definitely bias. Amazing that three Grand Slams plus a final in the fourth and 12 titles along with a 92-5 match record and you are still left waiting for an award!! What more can you ask from a tennis player? What else can a tennis player do? A season like the one Roger had this year should have automatically earned him this award. Its depressing that a guy with so much talent is still having to endure lack of support and recognition. I hope Roger doesn’t take this too seriously. Overall, this was a terrible decision by SI. Shame on them.

cj Says:

who is Wade? TYPICAL American nonsense of course the world knows who Roger is and what he ,is all time best at.Cant believe that magazine has never awarded a tennis player any regonition ever shame on them.Even Randall is not amused and that says something since he slags Roger so often.Nicer guy you couldnt get than Roger its what they are doing in the present that matters not what their past was like.I live in Scotland and am not interested in American sports all i know is that they are loud and noisy and just not my thing.

amy Says:

they should just change the title to “american sportsmen of the year” because most of their choices are an absolute joke.

a lot of americans say “yeah but whos federer?”, i think more people in the world knows who federer is than this wade guy.

JCF Says:

Roddick would win SI’s sportsman of the year award before Federer will…

Daniel Says:

You guys have it all wrong!!! It’s a BLESSING that Fed didn’t win it. Don’t you know about the curse of the SI cover? :)

I’d rather have him keep dominating and showing off his sublime tennis skills than get on the cover of some irrelevant dead-tree magazine and then have a bad 2007.


jcc Says:

I’m an American myself, but I couldn’t agree with you guys more. Federer doesn’t need any more recognition. If he had won Sportsman of the year, most Americans would be scratching their head trying to figure out who Federer is. S.I. is not a truly international magazine. Their obsession is with American sports and bikini models, and that’s it.

pat Says:

Why the big row over SI? I didn’t know anybody still bothered to read it. It’s only about the team money sports in America and swimsuits. Frankly I don’t see why Federer should be lowballed by putting him on the cover of this rag. With emphasis on that word, please!

gaobest Says:

I’m an American, and when I first read about this, I thought “Who’s Dwayne Wade?” – oh well, at least I’ve learned something new. Sports Illustrated is a generally has-been useless publication, so I doubt anyone takes it seriously. Mike xx

Steven Rahn Says:

Big surprise. The WTA championships weren’t even televised here in America (unless you can get the Tennis Channel, which I can’t). Why? Because there were no Americans that qualified for the event. Americans apparently have no interest in watching non-American athletes…no matter how great. At least thats what the networks seem to believe. The whole thing makes me sick. It’s not about love of sport, or the opportunity to see the world’s finest athletes, but about about an insular, hyper-patriotic mentality…and the ratings war of course.
SI is a joke, as is ESPN for not showing the best matches by the top players…regardless of national origin.

veena Says:

blessed people like RF doesnt need any fame through these awards. He goes on and on.

Jason Says:

Shame on SI. Sportsman of the Year Award is not based on stories from poor family then becoming rich. It’s should be based on their accomplishments for the year. Wade is not even closed to be great. He joined the USA team and didn’t even win, unlike MJ in the Dream Team. On the other hand RF confirmed his dominanced his group. He’s rewriting history. It would be a great story of how he able to accomplished it. That’s why I don’t buy Sports Illustrated. I only bought SI when it was Sharapova is on the cover of the magazine. hehehe. SI really is a stupid magazine.

Amf Says:

Roger Federer doesn’t need to be recognized by a silly magazine like SI. Who cares about SI anyway expect the american market. And one more thing is SI should name their title as ‘American athelte of the year’, there is clear bias in thier choice. When I read wade , i said who??? is that Dwayne who?? I live in Europe and as far as I see it along with many other people in the rest of the world, Roger Federer should have one hand’s down for being the Sportsman of the year period. This magazine SI is not only American biased, it stands for Sports Ignorance, who just award title for money and commercial interests, pity that sports in America is like that!!! :)

SI sucks Says:

Who cares SI magzine????????????????
Most people in the world don’t know about SI!!!!
But, almost everyone (in the world) knows who ROGER FEDERER is. Yes……that’s fact.
So, SI should be honored to name RF as their sportsman……..not other way. RF doesn’t care at all……

babu2 Says:

SI is based in the U.S. Why is everyone here so indignant over something so expected. It is a magazine, the publishers want to sell copies to MAKE MONEY. That’s what companies do. I live in the U.S, know who Roger Federer and Dwayne Wade are, and frankly am not surprized that Wade won it. Did Federer accomplish more in 2004, 2005, and 2006 than Wade did this year? Of course, but it’s not an international magazine or an international award. People who read SI don’t know Roger Federer and so he didn’t get the award. I’m a Federer fan and like tennis more than basketball, but it seems pretty simple to me…

Shabazza Says:

I’m European and follow international basketball and when I heard Dwayne Wade got SI SOY – I thought: “Wade you heard this name somewhere…” – I remebered that he played for the US-team who lost to Greece in the SF and he didn’t impress me at all that time.
Such a guy is SI SOY – I have to laugh –
SI = (world-)Sport Ignorance is fitting.
Who cares…

Julie Says:

Sport Illustrated must rename its award as US sportsman of the year award, or even more precisely as the US football, baseball or basketball sportsman of the year. To sell the magazine if it is necessary to give the award to somebody who is American, then it is better to make it a national award, limited only to national players. These American sports and the players are not popular outside USA, almost nobody knows them or cares about these American baseball, football etc. Tennis is truly an international sport. It is a major sport all over the world. Roger Federer is famous everywhere in the world. If tennis gets the same kind of publicity and attention what other American national sports are getting in America, tennis would also become a major sports in USA. It is as simple as that. It is not Federer’s loss, it is actually American people’s loss that they are deprived of knowing and watching a legend like Roger Federer. Anyway, Sport Illustrated award is not that important an award, Federer already has won much more prestigious awards than Sports Illustrated award and he will keep winning more important awards in future. I just expressed my opinion that it is totally wrong and unfair to select somebody like Wade over a genius like Roger Federer. This is an insult to his achievements and greatness.

Liz (in Atlanta) Says:

thank you, thank you, thank you SI for NOT putting Roger on the cover. I do believe in the SI cover jinx.

Truth be told, the only paper Roger likes to see his name on these days is in the books of tennis history. If he appeared on the Sports Illustrated cover, he might just become another flavor of the year.

Lets see how far Dwayne Wade goes after his award. Who knows it might be all downhill for him now.

tequilaandchili Says:

What world authority has SI anyways?
Roger is beyond SI recognizitions. He does not need covers or awards from a money driven quasi-magazine.
Roger’s racquet do the talking and the entire WORLD knows it. He has a stellar dimension. SI’s choice is just local; but as I said, Roger doesn’t need SI to be what he is…..A WORLD CLASS SPORTMAN

Jason Says:

Everyone should probably take a chill and relax a bit. We are talking about a pretty subjective award from a magazine that is based in the United States, so yes they will give the award to sports that are strictly American. Pretty interesting to see all the anti-Americanism fly because of a sports magazine article. As an FYI, Johann Olav Koss won the award in ’94, Bannister won it in ’54, and Ingemar Johansson won it in ’59. The majority of winners are American, but there are a few that are not. All in all, nothing to get in a twist over. It’s also ironic that people are angry about others who don’t know about Federer, while at the same time saying “Dwayne who?” Not to mention the irony of dismissing American stuff at the same time you are getting so wrapped up in it.

babu2 Says:

Thank you Jason. Many of the posters say that Roger doesn’t need SI because he’s won more prestigious awards. I agree with that. Then again, Roger has a lot of awards, and I really don’t think he’s going to go home and pout like a lot of the people here. If it’s not that big a deal, don’t make a big scene…especially when you bring in the anti-American bias, the same kind you posters accuse SI of. Again, did Federer deserve it? Yes, but sporting companies can’t give every single award they have to 1 guy.

MO - - American girl/Roger Fan Says:

Here, here!

Stop throwing a hissy fit! I doubt Roger cares or even notices that he didn’t win the award.

Everything comes down to money. You guys know that, so it shouldn’t be surprise that Wade was chosen. I for one love tennis and I can’t stand basketball with it’s overpaid whiner babies.

I think more people in America know who Roger is than most think. Not because they’ve watched Roger, but because of his recent affiliation with Tiger Woods. I think it would have peaked interest in tennis among those in America that aren’t all that in to it anymore. It’s truly SI’s loss.

Finally, enough with the Roddick bashing. It’s not his fault Roger didn’t get chosen. And to say he would be chosen before Roger is ridiculous since they never chose Sampras or Agassi.

Sean Randall Says:

Good to see the anger at the magazine. Unfortunately, as I wrote in my post, SI is an American mag and caters predominantly to an American audience. And for the benefit of those who do not live in the U.S., the pro tennis season here begins with the second week of Wimbledon and ends with the US Open finals. That’s just the reality of the sport in the U.S. It’s pretty much on life support.

I should also add that within the SOY issue there was an insert with a story on the six or seven most memorable (or something like that) acts of sportsmanship over the last 50 years or so in sports. Among them was…Andy Roddick overturning a call vs. Fernando Verdasco in Rome last year. We all remember, but was it one of the great acts of sportsmanship over the last 50 years? I’m not so sure. It was clay afterall but SI probably didn’t really understand what that meant.

babu2 Says:

Haha, comment about Roddick & clay is hilarious and possibly true.

Patrick McEnroe’s defence for Federer receiving SOY, in case anyone missed it:


I personally couldn’t believe it. Thought it was great that he put himself on the line and voiced his opinion. Have to agree w/ everything he said except for the title change. Why? Cause there’s no way SI would do that! It would make the award seem less prestigious. Absolutely true that Federer deserved it in one of the past 3 years. Not just about American-bias either, it’s more about American sports popularity. Didn’t know this before: Neither Pete Sampras nor Andre Agassi has received the SI SOY. What a f@#$-up. You’re telling me Andre wouldn’t sell magazines…or anything else?

SI’s Best Looking Athletes: Snubbing Federer… Again Says:

[…] I’m really unclear what Sports Illustrated has against the World’s Number 1 male tennis player, but they seem to really have it bad. For details on their snub of Roger Federer as Sportsman of the Year, check out my blogging buddy Sean Randall’s most excellent post, Federer Snubbed, Wade Wins SI Sportsman of the Year, from earlier this month. […]

SRC Says:

The snub of Roger Federer by not only SI but also the AP poll is an utter embarrassment for both organizations. Anybody who knows anything about sports across the world (just ask Tiger Woods himself) KNOWS Roger Federer has had the most dominant three years OF ANY SPORT. The argument that tennis is not well known in the U.S. is a sorry statement. Isn’t it the responsibility of a sports magazine to keep us up on sports? Their blatent disregard of tennis and non-American athletes in general is evidence of their poor journalistic integrity. If you ask any American who the best sports teams or athletes in the world are, they will undoubtedly give you the name of an American or American team despite all recent evidence to the contrary (last U.S. world champion in baseball, basketball, soccer, or tennis anyone?). This does not reflect on Federer in the least as everyone knows who the athlete of the year and decade so far has been. And that is no tennis bias as I am also a big fan of basketball and football. I am just able to recognize a great athlete, unlike supposed “professional” sports authorities. As has been stated this is a commercial decision through and through. They should admit as much.

SRC Says:

Oh, and by the way, anyone know the biggest selling sports event on U.S. soil? That’s right, the U.S. Open. Who says tennis is not popular in the U.S.?

Top story: US Open Looking At Drastic Measures To Hold Event: Held In NYC, No Fans, Charter Flights For Players