Kate Douglass and Leon Marchand Snubbed By 2023 “Greatest School Athlete” ESPY Nominations


Because it has been confirmed time and time once more, swimming doesn’t get the respect that it deserves within the mainstream world of sports activities. So once I came upon this morning that NCAA swim stars Kate Douglass and Leon Marchand weren’t nominated for the 2023 “Greatest School Athlete” ESPY award for ladies’s and males’s sports activities respectively, I used to be disillusioned however not shocked.

ESPY awards, that are quick for “Excellence in Sports activities Efficiency Yearly Awards”, are accolades offered by the TV community ESPN and handed to the very best performers in sports activities yearly. Although the awards present isn’t unique to Individuals (for instance, there’s a “Greatest Worldwide Athlete” award for males’s and ladies’s soccer. As well as, Zach Edey, a nominee for “Greatest School Athlete: Males’s Sports activities”, is Canadian.), it’s catered to an American viewers and most athletes nominated play sports activities which are standard in the USA.

On condition that winners are chosen by on-line fan vote, it’s fairly clear that the premise of the awards present is basically based mostly on leisure, which is why it doesn’t come as a shock that the majority NCAA-related nominees come from extra standard school sports activities like soccer, basketball, softball, and so on. And moreover,  swimmers aren’t strangers to ESPYs—Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel each gained awards final 12 months, and Olympians like Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Katinka Hosszu, and Dara Torres in addition to Paralympians Jessica Lengthy and Brad Snyder have all both gained or been nominated for ESPYs up to now.

That being stated, many of the swimmers acknowledged on the ESPYs had been extra well-known to the mainstream due to their Olympic or Paralympic gold medals. With regards to recognizing swimmers past their worldwide achievements although, the ESPYs doesn’t do an awesome job—akin to when Ledecky was nominated over Dressel for “Greatest School Athlete” in 2018, even though Ledecky was arguably not even the very best feminine NCAA swimmer that 12 months and Dressel posted one of many biggest NCAA Championship performances in historical past.

And after witnessing the historical past that Douglass and Marchand made in NCAA swimming this 12 months, the truth that they didn’t even sniff a nomination for an ESPY is proof that the ESPY nominations are removed from an correct illustration of who had been the best-performing athletes of the 12 months.

For reference, these had been the athletes nominated over Douglass and Marchand:

“Greatest School Athlete: Girls’s Sports activities” Nominees:

  • Caitlin Clark, Iowa — Basketball
  • Jordy Bahl, Oklahoma — Softball
  • Izzy Scane, Northwestern — Lacrosse
  • Trinity Thomas, Florida — Gymnastics

“Greatest School Athlete: Males’s Sports activities” Nominees:

  • Zach Edey, Purdue — Basketball
  • Duncan McGuire, Creighton — Soccer
  • Brennan O’Neil, Duke — Lacrosse
  • Caleb Williams, USC — Soccer

All the athletes listed above have completed nice issues, and I anticipated most of them to be nominated. Caleb Williams has been known as the very best NFL quarterback prospect within the final decade. Caitlin Clark‘s efficiency this 12 months prompted me to write down an article evaluating her season to that of Douglass. I’ve watched an excellent quantity of Northwestern lacrosse video games this 12 months, and Izzy Scane is an absolute human spotlight reel—the story of her getting back from an ACL harm to drive her group to a nationwide title and change into the nation’s main goalscorer is unbelievable.

Regardless of the achievements of the athletes nominated, it nonetheless feels incorrect that Douglass and Marchand weren’t named alongside them, and this isn’t only a “swimming bias”-fueled argument. Douglass and Marchand will not be simply the 2 greatest swimmers of the 2022-23 season, however they’re each generational abilities that the game would possibly by no means see once more. Douglass is arguably the very best feminine swimmer to grace the NCAA since Natalie Coughlin—what number of different feminine athletes this 12 months can declare to be the best that their sport has seen within the final 20 years (and as somebody who’s fairly acquainted with the athletes nominated over her, I can confidently say that the reply is “not many”)? Equally, Marchand has versatility/dominance that has not been displayed earlier than within the fashionable period of swimming and is consistently in comparison with Michael Phelps—are you able to identify 4 different male collegiate athletes which have been known as the inheritor to the GOAT of their sports activities this 12 months?

Moreover, Douglass and Marchand each set a number of national-level information. Sure, information are likely to get damaged extra usually in swimming as a result of it’s a times-based sport. However Douglass and Marchand broke information in three totally different particular person occasions multi functional season, which is a feat that has solely been completed by three different swimmers within the final century. As well as, each swimmers are the quickest in historical past in a number of occasions by a big margin: Marchand swam a 3:28 400 IM when no person else has been below 3:32 and is the quickest 200 IMer and 200 breaststroker in historical past by over a second; whereas Douglass went a 1:48 200 IM when no person else has damaged 1:50 and can be the quickest girls’s 200 breaststroker by over a second.

In different phrases, if Douglass and Marchand are thought-about two of the best NCAA swimmers of all-time, then why aren’t they being nominated for an award given to the very best NCAA athletes of this 12 months alone?

Now, I don’t count on swimmers to all of a sudden prime the totem pole of NCAA sports activities. And in most years, I can perceive why swimmers aren’t nominated for awards like these, particularly NCAA-level awards. However in a 12 months the place two generational abilities dominated swimming and barely acquired any recognition within the mainstream, all I see is missed alternative to advertise sport as a complete. This shouldn’t function an assault towards ESPN, however as a mirrored image on how school swimming could be promoted higher by all events in order that it’s biggest abilities get the eye that they deserve.

And it’s not like Douglass and Marchand are completely obscure, both. They’re each Olympic finalists, and Douglass’s 200 IM NCAA report even caught the eye of former White Home press secretary and tv host Jen Psaki (acknowledging that she is a former swimmer). As well as, ESPN even did a function on the Virginia girls’s swim group previous to NCAAs. Marchand, then again, is inevitably going to garner worldwide consideration on the Paris Olympics subsequent 12 months.

Sooner or later, I hope that swimmers cease getting undersold not as a result of they weren’t ok, however as a result of individuals don’t perceive or take the time to know how good they’re.


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