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August 29, 2008 at 4:09 PM

Mailbag: Fans picking the MVP

Shed, a poster on this blog, asked what I thought about fans being given the power to pick who’s selected 2008 MVP. In a word: Absurd! And Shed, a longtime Storm fan, agrees with me, calling the gesture “ridiculous.”
The MVP vote is not a popularity contest and is something I’ve labored over as a member of the media. We’re paid to analyze the game and report the news and no matter what you feel about how I’ve executed part of my duties as a reporter, it’s never done with any bias. If you don’t believe me, see past stories/posts where I’ve ripped G Sue Bird and coach Anne Donovan — just to name a few.
I value this position and the duty to vote on the league’s best. Opening up this procedure to fans — who can vote DAILY — makes the award no more valuable than an All-Star selection. While some fans will use statistics and basketball knowledge to make their selections, most will just say Bird or Lisa Leslie because they like them. Or they’re hot. Or Tamika Catchings because she’s never won. Or Tina Thompson because she may be retiring and shouldn’t leave without one MVP award. In fact, why don’t we just give the award to Bird or Candace Parker since they’re the most popular players.
I don’t know why the WNBA continues to make these kinds of moves. It’s as if they’re afraid of a little internal controversy with their fans and media. But would there really be any with the MVP vote? Would anyone really argue that Lauren Jackson is not an MVP? Sure Becky Hammon could have been selected in 2007, but aren’t debates good?
And what does this do to my position as a writer? Along with people having their own Internet sites and blogs, this is another way to slap hard-working print media in the face, elevating the common fan to the level of journalist by giving them 25 percent of the final tally. So, why stop at MVP? If fans are so knowledgeable/unbiased to pick the most valuable player, why can’t they pick the coach, defensive player, most improved, first and second teams, the rookies and everything else?
Other sports, such as the NFL and NBA, use a similar format. But it’s for the All-Star game or Super Bowl MVP. These respected and successful leagues would never allow fans to pick their MVP. They barely want media to do it.
And I’m not bashing fans, I think you should have a say in who you want to see for All-Star games. I would even be cool with fans selecting a criterion for postseason awards since that is never agreed upon by journalists. But the casual fan or “hater” could really screw up an important award for the WNBA under this format.
The MVP, to me, isn’t just the player who has a statistically solid year in guiding their team to the postseason. They’re like Ms. America in the sense that for a year, they represent the league’s absolute best.
Again, I don’t think the media has done a bad job in selecting this person over the past 11 seasons. True, without Lauren Jackson (surgery) and with Phoenix stinking so bad I don’t how anyone could make a case for Diana Taurasi, the field is wide open this summer. But to think the fans could offer a better perspective than people paid to pay attention to the league as a whole is absurd.
Yet, because I’ve always cared what you think, please let me know your thoughts about this move and who you’re thinking about voting for, mine just might be Bird. But not because she’s hot.



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