On Monday, ESPN announced that it would honor Caitlyn Jenner at the 2015 ESPYs with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. That July ceremony is set to be the stage for Jenner’s first major public appearance since unveiling her new identity, which is likely to result in record ratings for the telecast.
Since then, a controversy has erupted on social media about whether Jenner should be getting the award, at least as compared to other possible candidates that some deem more worthy. Prominent among those candidates is Noah Galloway, who lost most of his left arm and leg as a soldier in Iraq, then went on to become a distance runner, personal trainer, motivational speaker and, recently, a third-place finisher on “Dancing With the Stars.”
On Tuesday, many people took to Twitter to express disappointment, if not outrage, that ESPN picked Jenner over Galloway. The problem is that there is no indication that ESPN was ever weighing the merits of Galloway, or anyone else, against those of the former Bruce Jenner.
The sports network’s press release announcing that Jenner would receive the Courage award makes no mention of any other nominees. The myth-busting Web site Snopes.com traced the misconception that Galloway was passed over to a tweet posted by Gerry Callahan, a Boston Herald columnist and co-host of the “Dennis and Callahan” radio show.
Caitlyn Jenner wins Arthur Ashe Courage Award. And the runner-up is …. pic.twitter.com/DKUdnPT8Gx
— Gerry Callahan (@GerryCallahan) June 1, 2015
If Caitlyn Jenner is more courageous then Noah Galloway then I'm not sure what kinda world I'm living in… pic.twitter.com/AbJLuzVpJa
— Caylee Roth (@CayNoel) June 2, 2015
Sure enough, plenty of folks ran with it:
Bruce Jenner won the Arthur Ashe courage award over Army Veteran Noah Galloway? I am disappointed in ESPN's values. Let the boycott begin!
— Larry Cox (@CoachLarryCox) June 2, 2015
@espn is a joke and everyone knows it. Giving Jenner courage award over Galloway is a travesty.
— Ryan (@ryangentry4) June 2, 2015
I haven't seen one person not dissappointed with @espn and it's decision to give "Caitlyn Jenner" the courage award over Noah Galloway
— Matt Mizak (@Matt_Mizak) June 2, 2015
anyone is feeling nauseous today? it's probably caused by @espn picking Jenner to win a courage & inspiration award instead of Noah Galloway
— Jordan Morales (@jordanmomo7) June 2, 2015
@ espn Jenner over Galloway????? You should be ashamed!!! Truly appalling! !!!
— tenvs (@TenVs) June 2, 2015
— Maria Albert (@MariaJordan23) June 2, 2015
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking issue with ESPN’s choice of Jenner, as compared to other potential honorees. Tuesday also saw many tweets claiming that would-be college basketball player Lauren Hill, who raised money to fight cancer before dying from her own rare condition this year, would have been a better choice.
And a case can certainly be made, as well, for Galloway, on his own inspiring merits. But it’s simply not correct to criticize ESPN for relegating the veteran to “runner up” status to Jenner.