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The Lou Marsh Award, named for a former sports editor of the Toronto Star, is the highest honour for Canadian athletes. A committee will deliberate on Tuesday among the deepest field of candidates in memory. Some of our amateur athletes had remarkable accomplishments; Marlene Streit winning the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur golf tournament at the age of 69 was amazing, while Perdita Felicien excelled on the track, Charmaine Hooper on the pitch, and Melanie Turgeon on the slopes. Hayley Wickenheiser playing pro hockey against men would be enough to warrant the award some years. The NFL's best placekicker, Mike Vanderjagt, is a mere afterthought in this field.

In almost any other vote, Paul Tracy would be honoured for his CART championship, but he figures to finish a distant third in 2003. It's a foregone conclusion that Masters champion Mike Weir, the first Canuck ever to win a golf major, will relegate NL Cy Young winner Eric Gagne to second place. Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette may be expressing both a regional bias and a passion for baseball when he complains that golf "barely qualifies as a sport." In the Star, Dave Feschuk makes an impassioned plea for Gagne, while Doug Smith argues the case for Weir.

Gagne was tremendous, but his Cy came in a season when no NL starter was an obvious choice. Now, if Eric had pitched 250 innings, gone 25-3, struck out 300 and led the Dodgers to a championship, it would really be close. Even then, Weir's unique individual accomplishment would stand out as the greatest single sports memory of the year for this Canadian. What do other Bauxites think? I'm especially interested in the perspective of our friends from other nations. Who was "our" best athlete this year?
Canada's Athlete Of The Year | 16 comments | Create New Account
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_Cristian - Saturday, December 13 2003 @ 03:16 PM EST (#82584) #
I have to agree with Jack Todd. Before we give the award to a golfer, we should see if Canadians excelled in any similar 'sport' like bowling, darts, or Pictionary.
_A - Saturday, December 13 2003 @ 03:30 PM EST (#82585) #
5-pin bowling is a Canadian game!
Coach - Saturday, December 13 2003 @ 03:48 PM EST (#82586) #
The Lou Marsh doesn't go to whoever can do the most pushups. If a Canadian wins a world championship or Olympic gold in say, curling, that makes them a contender in my book. Steve Nash should be high on the list every year, but he'd need an MVP to hit the podium in this field. Weir went where no Canadian ever had gone before, looked pressure in the eye and made the whole country proud.

That's no disrespect to Gagne, who joins the lofty company of Ferguson Jenkins as Cy winners. Eric had the best season by a Canadian since, uh, Larry Walker, whose .366-49-130 (sorry for using the old Triple Crown stats, but sometimes they look real pretty) lost to Formula One champ Jacques Villeneuve, or as Larry put it, "his car."
_Mark - Saturday, December 13 2003 @ 05:05 PM EST (#82587) #
My vote is for Weir. Obviously the Masters win is huge, and he also took two other tournaments. He was in the running for Player of the Year with Woods, Singh and Love III.

Gagne did of course have a great season and he wouldn't be a terrible pick. But he's probably around the 25th or so best baseball player. Coach, if Gagne really did have those numbers (25-3, 300 Ks etc) I'd think he was deserving (i.e. show he was one of the top 5 baseball players, say).

I dismiss auto racing a bit because the driver is a small part of things. Look at Villeneuve, he was the Indy 500 & F1 champion and now he can never finish a race? I doubt his driving skill has someone all left him. So that eliminates Tracy in my book. Maybe if he were Schumacher or something I'd vote for him.

Wickenheiser would not be a terrible pick in that she probably is the best female hockey player in the world. I think, however, in a non-Olympic year, there isn't much chance of an award.

I think there is a legitimate reason to discount some sports a bit due to lack of popularity or participation. Let's say someone is really good at bobsledding. Well, how do we know you or I wouldn't have had the natural talent for it, since we've never had the chance to try. With the mainstream sports, most of us have at least had some sort of shot at it. That being said, a lot of the past winners have been not-exactly-mainstream sports, so I can't see how that anti-golf argument is practically going to hurt Weir (the usual who-they-should-vote-for vs. who-they-will-vote-for argument)

Is there no list of Lou Marsh Award winners on the net? I can't find one! I found some of the recent winners

2003 ???
2002 Catriona Le May Doan (speed skater - Olympic gold + world championship)
2001 Jamie Sale & David Pelletier (figure skaters)
2000 Daniel Igali (wrestler)
1999 Caroline Brunet (kayaker - 3 world golds)
1998 Larry Walker (NL batting title
1997 Jacques Villeneuve (F1 championship)
1996 Donovan Bailey (Olympic golds)
1995 Jacques Villeneuve (Indy 500 champion)

I started a page at Wikipedia with some of the winners.
_Mark - Saturday, December 13 2003 @ 05:11 PM EST (#82588) #
Wow, that was hard to find.

Lou Marsh Trophy winners (in French)
_David Armitage - Saturday, December 13 2003 @ 07:05 PM EST (#82589) #
For me this is an even more difficult award to quantify than what an MVP award actually means.

Culturally the significance of Weir being the first Canadian to win a Masters is huge, and winning 3 tournaments in a year is no easy feat.

The problem with Weir for me is that golf is a sport that doesn't lend itself to high levels of consistency due to the difficulty of the game. Tiger Woods is the Tour Player of the Year, and most people believed he slumped for most of the year (although if I had a girlfriend like that I'm sure I'd be slumping too.)

While there's no doubt he had a great year, I can't qualify winning the biggest tournament to being the best Canadian athlete in 2003. At the same time, I realized I'm far more biased towards athletes in sports that compete more often.

I'm not sure how Weir was under any more pressure to succeed at the Masters than he would in similar circumstances at a different golf tournament. Given that, I'd much rather see the award go to Eric Gagne, who has consistently shown that under pressure he has come through a record number of times.

Second on my ballot would be Hooper, who has done yeomen's work for Canadian's women soccer over the years, culminating in an excellent performance at the World Cup this year. The fact they asked her to move to defense to cover a weakness, and she still managed to score twice, including a goal to beat the Chinese, was named to the WC all-star team in a position she doesn't plays, is all you need to say about her. A role model all Canadian kids can look up to.

Third on my ballot would be Tracy, only due to the fact that CART is in pretty rough shape, and the fact that he had few competitors in a dilapidated sport on the brink of extinction. I really like Tracy, hopefully he gets a ride somewhere next year if Cart actually does go out of business. It's sad that the IRL might outlive a superior product that cutoff one leg to stop the bleeding, then shot itself in the foot of the other.
_sweat - Sunday, December 14 2003 @ 12:45 PM EST (#82590) #
My list would run: Gagne, weir, tracy, hooper.
Gagne's year is less likely to be reproduced than any of the other three. Hooper, while great with team canada, didnt make a big enough splash to get any recognition at all(same could be said of wikenheiser).
That being said i thtink weir will win by a landslide.
_Wildrose - Sunday, December 14 2003 @ 01:46 PM EST (#82591) #
Put me down for Steve Nash.

I thought he should have won last year,( I believe it was Mario Lemieux).

Nash is one of the top 2-3 players at his position , in a sport that is one of the top 3-4 most popular in the world, with millions of active participants.

What clinches it for me is that he puts his financial well- being on the line for the love of his country.It's no secret that his owner Mark Cuban has actively discouraged Steve's participation internationally. Still, even with impending free agency on the horizon, he answered the National Teams call.

Mike Weir will win, and in many ways he deserves it. I'd just hate to see the sacrafices of Nash go unrewarded.
_tangotiger - Sunday, December 14 2003 @ 10:56 PM EST (#82592) #
Canada's Athlete of the Year is interesting to me, because it often goes to a Canadian in a sport not filled with Canadians. Martin Brodeur can qualify as the best Canadian athlete, but you can argue about 10 other Canadian hockey players too. So, none of them stand out, like 66 or 99 would, so they are all disqualified.

Then, there are sports that don't have athletes, like golf, bowling, or curling. I think a simple rule of thumb is that if you can do the activity while drinking 6 beers, you are not an athlete. Furthermore, while you might have 5 golfers in the whole world that makes 5 million$, you probably have 50 hockey players, and 100 baseball players that earn that much. Golf just does not attract the money/interest that hockey does on a gross level (as opposed to a per game level).

Seriously, only in hockey will players insist on going back to the ice after taking brutal hits that knock them unconscious, or getting stitches. Even an alleged soft Paul Kariya against a confirmed tough guy Scott Stevens came back to score the most improbable of goals.

Have we forgotten that hockey has the most incredible athletes in the world? And that Canada contributes over a third of these?

Martin Brodeur gets my vote that I don't have.
_Steve Rohde - Monday, December 15 2003 @ 10:40 AM EST (#82593) #
I agree on Brodeur.
_David Goodwin - Tuesday, December 16 2003 @ 12:14 PM EST (#82594) #
Fan reports that Weir won the Lou Marsh by one vote over Gagne.
_David Goodwin - Tuesday, December 16 2003 @ 12:18 PM EST (#82595) #
Here's an article about it in the Star (COMN).
_Rob - Tuesday, December 16 2003 @ 04:43 PM EST (#82596) #
I was about to post my comment when I saw that Weir had won. Good for him. The argument for Gagne was thin, as he pitched (what?) XX-some innings for a team with an amazing pitching staff, so if he screwed up, they could always give his job to some other guy.

Who would take Mike Weir's job? I don't see Leggatt or Ames with a Green Jacket.
_Rob - Tuesday, December 16 2003 @ 04:50 PM EST (#82597) #
I was about to post my comment when I saw that Weir had won. Good for him. The argument for Gagne was pretty tight, with his 55-for-55 and pressure-filled job, but nothing has more pressure than a six-foot putt on the 18th in Augusta with an entire country's hopes on your back.

I forget who won last year here in Canada for Male Athlete (Lemieux?) but Gagne has a chance to win it next season, and if he continues his 9th inning tear, he should win it.

BTW, those figure skaters (Sale? and the other one) shouldn't have won for anything. You have to play a sport of some type to qualify, and last time I checked, wearing a skirt and skating in circles to "Love Story" didn't count.
_Ken - Tuesday, December 16 2003 @ 05:05 PM EST (#82598) #
Martin Brodeur can qualify as the best Canadian athlete, but you can argue about 10 other Canadian hockey players too

A very good point, people often overlook hockey because so many canadians play it.

seriously only in hockey will players insist on going back to the ice after taking brutal hits that knock them unconscious, or getting stitches

Hi-jacking the subject slightly, but i cannot agree with this statement. Players of all sports often continue playing with stiches, injuries and wounds. Rugby is a very physical sport and I have seen people play with absolutely revolting injuries, and play against the advice of team doctors. We can safely discard golf from this group :), but many popular sports while not as fundamentally physical in nature as hockey involve sportsmen and women who play through pain. Saying this however it's quite clear that playing though pain should not detract from the brilliance or skill of sport in any way, and I therefore believe it should not effect the voting for awards such as The Lou Marsh Award.
_tangotiger - Friday, December 19 2003 @ 10:49 AM EST (#82599) #
I said it more in jest.

But, the Stanley Cup means something to millions. Kids grow up dreaming about it. The entire hopes of Canada rests on their excelling in hockey. And, Canada's best athletes, by and large, choose hockey. This is why there's such a glut of talent at the top, that it's hard to separate.

Golf? A Canadian giant in the land of Canadian pygmies. Hockey? Well, what's bigger than a giant? A super-giant in the land of giants?
Canada's Athlete Of The Year | 16 comments | Create New Account
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