Moral character or sportsmanship should not figure into consideration for the Associated Press Athlete of the Decade Award. If NFL big mouth Terrell Owens had the statistics and trophies to back it up, even he should be considered.
He doesn't, but Tiger Woods does: The world's best golfer, AP noted, won 64 tournaments, including 12 major championships. He won big on every continent where golf is played.
Then there should be no question as to whether Tiger Woods deserves the honor, right? Wrong.
Here's my problem:
The award should be for athletes - those who show incredible feats of agility, speed, endurance or strength. Tiger Woods displayed none of those things. He has brilliant hand-eye coordination, much like a race car driver might have. That's it.
There's probably someone in an obscure sport like skeet shooting or archery somewhere who has more bragging rights in their respective sport than Tiger has.
I'd love to know Tiger Woods' vertical leap. Or how fast he can run the 40-yard dash. Or how much he can bench press. Can he throw, run, jump, skate, catch, kick, punch or knock another man down to the ground? I'm saying golf is a game - and a very difficult one at that - but it's not a sport. And I'm saying Tiger is indeed a master of his domain and worth every penny he's made, but he's no "athlete."
My pick for athlete of the year: Ronaldinho, the Brazilian soccer star. In the past decade he's won both FIFA Player of the Year and European Footballer of the Year awards. He helped Brazil win the 2002 World cup and led Barcelona to a Champions League title. He was recently named Footballer of the Decade and, seeing as how soccer is by far the most popular sport in the world, that honor might as well be considered THE athlete of the decade honor.
Those deserving consideration for runners up: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, Alexander Ovechkin, Oscar De La Hoya, Tony Hawk, Mia Hamm.
Tiger Woods is simply not in the same company as those men and women. Who do you think deserves the honor? Nominations, please.