10 Takeaways From Last Night's 2015 ESPY Awards

Everyone gets excited to meet J.J.
Everyone gets excited to meet J.J.

Never have so many people argued, laughed, and cried over fabricated awards concocted largely for the purpose of a television behemoth promoting its favorite thing — itself. But that's that the ESPY Awards have become — ESPN's annual party to celebrate celebrities, athletes, achievement, and ESPN!

What they lack in subtlety the ESPY's more than make up for as a business school lesson in brand building. These awards matter to people, in particular the recipients. Last night was the 23rd edition of the awards program. Let's take a look at what went down….

10. Ronda Rousey versus Floyd Mayweather, please happen
Rousey, in a mild upset (+155 to -185) over Floyd "Money" Mayweather, took home the Best Fighter ESPY, one of several awards handed down before the main telecast began. America rejoiced, because Mayweather is a walking, talking piece of shit. This is known. America really rejoiced, though, after Rousey's short speech, in which she essentially called out Mayweather for being a cowardly woman beating jackass….

9. ESPY Hunger Games
Seeing Rousey accept an award on the same red carpet as J.J. Watt, LeBron James and several other world class athletes got me thinking — if you could hold a Hunger Games-style "fight to the death" competition in the wilderness using the entire roster of nominees for the ESPY Awards, what would your big board look like? My top five would likely be J.J. Watt, LeBron, Gronk, Rousey, and Hope Solo, probably in that order, although I was amazed how many people unconditionally took Rousey when I posed this question on social media last night. (This is a topic that night deserve its own post.)

8. LeBron James somehow managed to win "Best Championship Performance" in a Finals in which he lost
Curious enough that LeBron James was nominated for "Best Championship Performance" at all, considering that his team, y'know, didn't win the championship and all. Another thing completely that he won the damn award. If this were 2011, the internet would've imploded like Heinz Field after Bane set off those bombs in that Dark Knight movie. 

7. J.J. Watt is living the dream of every teenager from like 2001
Earlier this week, Watt put out a picture on Instagram of him and his childhood crush, Jennifer Aniston. Then last night, we get this….

I love J.J. Watt, but I really hate J.J. Watt. (The sports relationship is so complex.)

6. The best way to make Alex Rodriguez funny AND sympathetic….
….is to make him say NOTHING. Let an actual funny person, like Ken Jeong, do all of the talking for him, and just have A-ROD stand there like a mannequin and shuffle papers to him. Lather, rinse, repeat, laugh. This was a pretty funny bit….

Hey, by the way, how does Rodriguez not make the Franchise Four for the Seattle Mariners? (Franchise Four is an MLB concoction that they revealed during the All Star Game on Tuesday, the best four historical players from each MLB team. Like the new "Mount Rushmore.") Edgar Martinez? REALLY?!?

The "room getting dusty" moments at last night's ESPY Awards got really dusty...

5. Danielle Green is an American hero
First…..

4. Lauren Hill was a great daughter, teammate, and inspiration 
Then….

3. Devon Still is a great father
And finally….

If you made it through those three videos without crying, you are a cyborg, and I am fearful of the day on which you and your kind take over the free world. 

2. Caitlyn Jenner did fine 
Finally, after all of the laughter and emotion, came the most polarizing moment of the show, and if social media is any gauge (and to be clear, it can be a horrible gauge sometimes), one of the most polarizing television moments of the year. Caitlyn Jenner made her speech accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, sparking a slew of off color jokes, hot takes, and Jaelen Strong tweets. The speech went fine, Caitlyn represented well….

I will say that it doesn't really help Jenner's cause with skeptics when immediately following the speech an advertisement for her new reality television show airs. I mean, you couldn't have even a tiny bit of separation, ABC?

1. People need a primer on the First Amendment
After Strong's short string of heated tweets (all of which were eventually deleted), I light heartedly tweeted "Somebody tackle Jaelen Strong," meaning somebody get to him before he gets called to the Texans' figurative principal's office. I don't want to see anybody get in trouble. Well, some Twitter folks took that to mean I vehemently disagreed with Strong's right to express himself. I explained why I tweeted what I did and proceeded to get a smattering of replies saying that "Strong has a right to tweet what he wants!" and "There's something called the First Amendment!" What people don't seem to realize is that the First Amendment keeps Strong out of jail, it doesn't keep him out of the Texans' management crosshairs. I'm still amazed at how many people think the First Amendment means you can just say anything you want to anyone you want with no fear of professional or personal reprisal. 

The First Amendment allows me to say that there are a lot of really dumb people out there.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.


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