Christine Sinclair, captain of Canada’s national women’s soccer team, was named the winner of the 2012 Lou Marsh award this past Monday. This award is given to Canada’s outstanding athlete of the year, as chosen by a group of sports reporters and broadcasters. Sinclair had an outstanding year, breaking her own record for goals (23), setting an Olympic record with 6 goals, and factoring in on over 65% of her team’s scoring. Without question, she is deserving of the award.
Also deserving, in my opinion, is the Colorado Mammoth’s John Grant. Grant set a new NLL record for points in a season and was named league MVP. Then his Chesapeake Bayhawks won the MLL championship, and to cap it all off his Peterborough Lakers won the Mann Cup. Not a bad year for one of the best lacrosse players in history. But how much consideration was he given for the Lou Marsh? None, apparently, as National Post writer, Lou Marsh committee member, and twitter aficionado Bruce Arthur revealed to me in an exclusive interview. OK, I’ll put “interview” in quotes. In actual fact, we had a short twitter exchange:
@GraemePerrow: @bruce_arthur Were you on the Lou Marsh committee? Was John Grant (lacrosse player) given any consideration?
@bruce_arthur: @GraemePerrow he wasn’t, to be honest.
@GraemePerrow: @bruce_arthur Too bad. One of the best lacrosse players ever with one of his best seasons ever, 3* years after life-threatening surgery
@bruce_arthur: @GraemePerrow I’ll look him up. Thanks.
* – it was actually four years. I misspoke.
“I’ll look him up.” Not only was Grant not given any consideration at the meetings, but Arthur has never heard of him.
I wish I could say that this reflects badly on Arthur or the Canadian sports media in general, but unfortunately for the lacrosse community, it’s par for the course. I’m sure this is frustrating for fans of a lot of sports – who was Canada’s best rugby player in 2012? Did he deserve to be mentioned? I have no idea, but rugby isn’t Canada’s national summer sport. Lacrosse is.
Should Grant have won the award over Sinclair? There’s certainly an argument to be made for it. More non-soccer fans heard about Sinclair this year than non-lacrosse fans heard about Grant, thanks to the Olympics. That said, it doesn’t seem fair to punish Grant for having an outstanding year in a “fringe” sport.
But I think it’s more than fair to say that Grant deserved to be in the conversation. Someone in that room should have said “Hey what about this John Grant guy? Won championships in two different leagues and was MVP of a third.” With a little research, they could have discovered that Grant had had knee surgery in 2008, which was not just career-threatening but life-threatening. There was talk of amputation, and Grant was told he’d never play again. Four years later, he’s the best player in the NLL. Again.
If someone in the room had brought that up and after some thought, it was decided to give Sinclair the award, I’d be fine with that and this article would never have been written. I might disagree with their decision, but they have their opinion and I have mine. But not to have Grant’s name even mentioned is a travesty.
Unbelievably, 2012 wasn’t even Grant’s best year. In 2007, he won the NLL Championship and the Mann Cup. He was named MVP of the NLL, the NLL Champions Cup game, the MLL, and the Mann Cup, and was also Offensive Player of the Year in the MLL. And since that wasn’t enough, he also won the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship as part of Team Canada. But did he get any consideration for the Lou Marsh award that year either? As far as I can tell, nope.
The Lou Marsh trophy was first awarded in 1936. Since then, 12 hockey players have won it along with 9 figure skaters. There have been runners, skiers, baseball players, golfers, swimmers, and now a soccer player. There have even been two wheelchair racers. But in 76 years, zero lacrosse players. Lacrosse has been one of Canada’s national sports since 1994 and was Canada’s only national sport for well over a hundred years before that, but the best lacrosse players in the world don’t seem to be considered for this award. This needs to change, but if John Grant can have the seasons he had in 2007 and 2012 and not even get mentioned, it doesn’t look like it will.