With the Emmys out of our rearview mirror and the Oscars three
months away, we know you're in awards withdrawal. Thus we proudly
present SI's first View-ers Choice Awards, commemorating the best
and worst of sports broadcasting in 2001. The envelopes, please:
Person of the Year: Jim Rome, Fox Sports Net. After nearly
flaming out seven years ago following his infamous interview with
Rams quarterback Jim (Don't Ever Call Me Chris) Everett, the once
too-obnoxious-for-his-own-good Rome has matured into one of the
sharpest interviewers in TV sports, presiding over a show that
mixes conversations with newsmakers and cutting-edge commentary.
Best Newcomer: Troy Aikman, Fox NFL analyst. The former Dallas
quarterback made a smooth transition to the booth and could be
heir apparent to John Madden.
Best Studio Show: Inside the NBA, TNT. The free-for-all among
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith provides enough
information to sate the hard-core fan--and more punch lines during
one postgame show than you'll hear during a season of NBC's
sitcom Inside Schwartz.
Best Documentary: Winning Is Living and Losing Is Dying: The
George Allen Story, ESPN. This fascinating NFL Films production
tackled the life and legacy of a brilliant but complicated coach.
Best Bout: The Aug. 30 Lennox Lewis-Hasim Rahman brawl while they
were guests on ESPN's Up Close had more action than their Nov.
17th fight--and was far more compelling than most of host Gary
Miller's punchless interviews on the now deceased show.
The Melissa Rivers Award: To ESPN's Chris Connelly, whose
afternoon interview show Unscripted has, since its Oct. 22nd
debut, been as illuminating as one of Missy's red-carpet Oscar
night interviews on E!
The Worst Damn Sports Show of the Year: The Best Damn Sports Show
Period, Fox Sports Net. Comedian Tom Arnold and sports go
together like Tori Spelling and Academy Award winner.
Most Pleasant Surprise: ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, with
entertainingly acidic Washington Post scribes Tony Kornheiser and
Michael Wilbon. Who knew watching two guys with faces for radio
could be so entertaining?
The Boo-yah Award: To ESPN's Stuart Scott, who gave Ravens
linebacker Ray Lewis a hug after a testy Super Bowl press
conference. Somehow we doubt Edward R. Murrow similarly embraced
Harry Truman following a State of the Union Address.
COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER NFL Films' compelling look at George Allen (above) was 2001's best documentary.