As surely as days grow shorter and leaves fall from trees, this season brings SPORTS ILLUSTRATED its first nomination for Sportsman of the Year. Although the year is far from over and many of sport's surprises and spectacles, its events and discoveries and its finest performers remain to be revealed, the suggestions are not premature. They are instead welcome reminders that at almost any time of the year sport has people to whom credit is due and honor is a deserved reward.
Four men have so far received the special honor of being Sportsman of the Year. For this the symbol is a reproduction of the Greek vase shown here. Those to whom it now belongs: for 1954, Roger Bannister, who won the Mile of the Century; for 1955, John Podres, who twice beat the Yankees in the World Series; for 1956, Bobby Morrow, who won two gold medals in the Olympics; and for 1957, Stanley Musial, who won seven batting championships.
In a definition of the meaning of the award, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED last year wrote (Dec. 23, '57): "The victory may have been his, but it is not for the victory alone that he is honored. Rather, it is for the quality of his effort and the manner of his striving. Whether it was over an extended period or only for an hour or an instant, his performance was such that his fellowmen could not fail to recognize it as the revelation of pure excellence...His ideal, if only at the instant of rising above himself, was the ageless ideal that in giving his best of body and spirit, he was honoring all men."
This year, as it happened, the first nomination for 1958 endorsed the candidacy of all those associated with the America's Cup challenger Sceptre, "if," the letter read, "she wins."
Win, as everyone now well knows, Sceptre did not. However, when Contributing Editor Carleton Mitchell summed up the races he wrote (SI, Oct. 6): "Universal was the admiration for the men of Sceptre, her backers and the actual deck organization. Never was sportsmanship on a higher plane...."
The same issue reported Hugh Goodson, the head of the Sceptre syndicate, when asked if he thought the defeat would put an end permanently to cup racing for Britain. "Quite frankly," said Goodson, "I don't think we shall ever give up."
In defeat, as it might have been in victory, a second to the original nomination would seem to be in order. So are many other nominations. And until the end of the year the editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will be most happy to hear them. The lists are open.