I’ve never fully understood the premise of the ESPYs, ESPN’s annual awards show, which airs for the 22nd time tomorrow night. Sports declare their winners through actual competition, and ESPY recipients have already earned more meaningful awards. Handing out Oscars and Grammys to actors and musicians makes sense. Declaring Adrian Peterson the Best NFL Player does not.
And yet, I have fond memories of the ESPYs, as I was fortunate enough to attend the show in 1997 and 1998. While it has since moved to the West Coast, at the time it was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The hour or so before the show started was sports heaven for my 10- and 11-year-old self. I snagged autographs from players like Tim Duncan, Keyshawn Johnson, and Lisa Leslie. I brought a small notepad for this purpose, but when several players were standing together I ended up with multiple signatures on the same piece of paper.