Yes it’s nearly February, and we apologize for our gross delinquency. Alas, the competition for the inaugural Unsportsmanlike Comment Sportsman of the Year award turned out far nastier than any of us had the vision to imagine.
There was disagreement. There was anger. Then came the feuding over artistic direction. Name-calling. Finger-pointing. Chest-pushing. Drunken threats. Poorly delivered punches. Homoerotic wrestling. And regret. Good Lord, regret.
We didn’t talk to each other for a full week, and then only in halting, distrusting, I-don’t-even-know-what-I’m-doing-here tones. Eye-contact was strenuously avoided. The absence of comaraderie sucked the air out of the room. Words were clipped and sullen. The future seemed very much in doubt.
Finally, hostilities eased. A torturous, pothole-riven road map to peace appeared. There was a little horse-trading, a bit of log-rolling. Future promises were exacted for current concessions. And at last a grudging deal stumbled out of the Boss Tweed backroom that was landscaped with frightening mounds of shitty domestic beer cans crowned with spent bottles of respectable Irish whiskey.
And that agreement was this: We are proud to announce that Aubrey McClendon, the billionaire co-owner of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics and ubiquitous CEO about town, reigns as our very first Sportsman of the Year.
The hell, you say? What did this vacant suit from Oklahoma City by way of Duke University, this graduate of the Rockefeller Institute for Latter-Day Robber Barons (located in a posh high-rise overlooking the Sixth Circle of Hell), ever do? He didn’t score a single touchdown. Didn’t sink a 3-pointer, win a PGA major or bounce back from cancer to win the final game of the World Series.
Furthermore, he isn’t up to his elbows in electrocuted dogs. He didn’t get caught with a steroid-infused syringe poking out of his fleshy buttocks. He even failed to fix a solitary NBA game, and God knows he’s got connections there.
Those were the arguments against his candidacy and why the process took such a virulent turn. Democracy, as they say, is messy business. Probably why we Americans don’t care much for it anymore. It hurts. It wounds. It scars.
But democracy it was, and thus did Aubrey prevail over a laundry list of worthy finalists: Tom Brady, Brett Favre. Michael Vick, Pacman Jones. Roger Clemens, Tim Donaghy. Everybody’s favorite brainless succubus, Jessica Simpson, got serious consideration for her role in seducing Tony Romo and taking down the hated Cowboys.
This list was endless, the conflict ugly.
But Aubrey McClendon need apologize to no man. His qualifications are impeccable. And it’s not like he just fell of the sporting turnip truck. He’s been out in the fields sewing his enviable legacy for years. In just one instance, he donated a quarter million dollars to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Justice, the American Way and the Vivisection of John Kerry back in 2004. This man got chops.
But for the sporting year 2007, the following summation explains why Aubrey emerged victorious from this internecine squabble:
- Working behind the scenes, Aubrey developed a game plan to save 412 acres of pristine, rare Lake Michigan dune property from the rapacious clutches of conservationists and government socialists. He sacrificed $39.5 million of his hard-earned money to preserve this national treasure for multimillion-dollar homes and perhaps a world-class golf course or two. Of course, misguided, dune-hugging environmentalists are fighting him tree-and-branch, but we wish Aubrey all the best in this noble endeavor.
- In another stroke of behind-the-scenes humanitarianism, Aubrey used his considerable resources to fund an environmental group called the Clean Sky Coalition. The chairman of the Chesapeake Energy Corp., the natural gas giant from Oklahoma City, McClendon worked selflessly in an effort to scour the filthy plague of coal-based poison from our troubled skies.
- He continued his quiet but dignified fight to champion the wholesome tradition of marriage.
- He maintained his generous giving to candidates of all stripes for political office. Showing a no-nonsense, bipartisan spirit, Aubrey donated to the compaigns of no fewer than four candidates for President of the United States, including Hillary Clinton!
- While the above are all wonderful attributes for Sportsman of the Year, there was one gesture that towered above the rest and earned Aubrey the not-yet-coveted award. In a moment of rare candor in these times of cant and duplicity, McClendon had the courage to tell it as it was when he told a newspaper reporter that Clay Bennett’s ownership group never had intended to keep the Sonics in Seattle, where they are woefully underappreciated, and that the plan from the start was to rescue the team from their shameful digs and give them a loving home in the basketball hotbed of Oklahoma City.
- Congratulations, Aubrey Kerr McClendon, you are a most-deserving Sportsman of the Year! Future winners can only hope to match the daunting standard you have set.