Since 1954, SI has presented its Sportsman of the Year award to "the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement." These 11 sports figures were the antithesis of that spirit in 2014.
December 03, 2014
1 of 11Danny Moloshok/AP
The L.A. Clippers owner’s racist remarks to his girlfriend caused his players to protest by wearing their warmup uniforms inside out before a playoff game, advertisers to flee the team, and the NBA to fine him $2.5 million, ban him for life and force the sale of the franchise. Sterling, whose ugly behavior had been well known for years, did not go quietly. He refused to pay the fine, threatened to sue the NBA for $1 billion, called his ex-wife “a pig” and attacked Magic Johnson during an interview with CNN, saying "He's got AIDS! What has he done, big Magic Johnson, what has he done?"
2 of 11TMZ.com/Splash News/Corbis; Patrick Semansky/AP
The Ravens running back became the ugly face of domestic violence after a horrifying security video of him knocking out his fiancée in a casino elevator was made public. Charged with assault, Rice’s two-game suspension was later made indefinite by the NFL amid growing public outrage. Seemingly repentant, Rice appealed and reversed his ban as similar cases (including Greg Hardy and Jonathan Dwyer in the NFL, MLB's Evan Reed, NASCAR’s Kurt Busch, the NHL’s Slava Voynov, and soccer’s Hope Solo) came to light and put heat on teams, leagues and organizations for their sometimes lax response to such incidents.
3 of 11David J. Phillip/AP
Claiming he was merely dispensing old school discipline, the Vikings running back was charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child for using a switch to punish his 4-year old son. Peterson later pled no contest to a misdemeanor but reports of bruises and lacerations on the boy made this one of the year’s most disturbing incidents. Peterson, who further soiled his image by admitting he’d smoked marijuana before a drug test, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL, but appealed the ban.
4 of 11Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Despite widespread calls to change his team’s racially offensive name, the owner remained defiant, insisting that the name honors Native Americans. Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter replied, “If Dan Snyder thinks it is acceptable for a billionaire to market, promote, and profit off of a dictionary defined racial slur, then he's living in an alternate universe. The longer he insists on slurring Native Americans, the more damage he will keep doing to Native American communities, and the more he will become synonymous with infamous segregationist George Preston Marshall, who originally gave the team this offensive name.”
5 of 11David Karp/AP
The recipient of a record 162-game suspension (reduced by an arbitrator from the original 211) for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal, A-Rod sued MLB only to withdraw the suit after complaining that, "The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one.” Alas, DEA records and court filings showed that he'd confessed to using PEDs and paid his cousin/co-conspirator Yuri Sucart nearly $1 million to clam up.
6 of 11Alan Diaz/AP
The former owner of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, who called himself "Dr. T" even though he's not a doctor, pled guilty to giving PEDs to 14 Major Leaguers, including Alex Rodriguez, who were suspended during the 2014 season. Bosch faces a 10-year sentence that will likely be reduced due to his cooperation with prosecutors and MLB, but his $100,000 bail was revoked in October for flunking drug tests in the wake of his arrest on cocaine charges and missing drug treatment appointments.
7 of 11Tasso Marcelo/AFP/Getty Images
Under fire for an allegedly corrupt bidding process that awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively, FIFA’s president refused to publicly release the results of an investigation that was widely derided as a whitewash. And despite the deaths of workers who were building tournament infrastructure in Qatar, and fears that thousands more will die in the severe conditions, Blatter coldly stated that FIFA is not responsible for their safety.
8 of 11Ivan Sekretarev, Paul White/AP
Besides raising hell on the world stage with his military incursion into Ukraine, Russia’s president fueled anger by defending his country’s law banning “gay propaganda” at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Putin assured gay athletes and fans that they would be welcome if they “leave the children in peace,” and also said that Russia must “cleanse” itself of homosexuality to improve its birth rate.
9 of 11Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images; Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
The brutal, unpredictable North Korean dictator was courted by his pal Dennis Rodman with a hoops exhibition featuring ex-NBA players. So much for basketball diplomacy. Kim went on imprisoning American tourists on trumped up charges, developing long-range missiles, and threatening mayhem against the U.S., South Korea, Japan and even SONY Pictures if it released its movie “The Interview,” which features an actor playing him.
10 of 11Charlie Neibergall/AP
The Vikings suspended their special teams coordinator for three games without pay after an outside investigation gave credence to claims by former punter Chris Kluwe and long-snapper Cullen Loeffler that Priefer had made ugly, homophobic remarks, including “putting all the gays on an island and nuking it.” Priefer, who was ordered to take workplace diversity training, later apologized.
11 of 11Don Kelly/AP
The Charlotte Hornets forward pled guilty to domestic violence and malicious destruction of property after assaulting a woman during an argument at a hotel in Michigan. Taylor was suspended by the NBA for 24 games and ordered into an alcohol treatment program by Commissioner Adam Silver. Taylor later apologized for his actions and accepted his suspension, which the NBA Players Association called excessive.
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