You’d think Serena Williams being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportperson of the Year would be quite a unanimous decision, considering the ridiculous year she had.
For starters, she came back from injury to take out three Grand Slams and a year-long #1 ranking, falling just one finals upset short of completing the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.
And, of course, there was her off-the-court outspokenness – using her platform to call out media sexism and racism – which obviously counts when deciding whether a sportsperson is indeed worthy of such an honour.
Seems like a great choice, right? Well, you’d be forgetting about horse people. They’re a passionate bunch.
An online fury has erupted over Sports Illustrated‘s selection, with horseracing fans saying the ‘Sportsperson of the Year’ title should’ve gone to retired racehorse, American Pharaoh.
In fact, in Sports Illustrated‘s own readers poll, American Pharaoh somehow took out 47 per cent of the votes to finish first over baseball champs the Kansas City Royals (29 per cent) and Argentina and Barcelona soccer hero, Lionel Messi (6 per cent). Williams, meanwhile, finished down in 12th spot.
To be fair to horses, American Pharaoh had an unprecedented year, winning the Triple Crown and the Breeder’s Cup Classic, becoming the first horse ever to take out all four major US racing titles in the same year.
But, well, you know, a horse is a horse, of course.
American Pharaoh’s owner Ahmed Zayat was among the first to respond to the supposed SI snub after the issue’s striking cover, featuring Serena awesomely slumped over a golden throne, was revealed overnight.
“ROBBED. ROBBED. ROBBED,” he wrote. Other racing fans followed suit:
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before Pharaoh’s fans were shut down, with other Twitter users pointing out that the complaints were, you know, perhaps a little bit racist and sexist:
Williams, who became the first individual sportswoman to earn the title since 1984, has yet to comment on the ridiculous furore. Perhaps, if she does, she could borrow an appropriate pun from these jokesters:
Yep, that’s about the right response.