Heard some debate about Jimmie Johnson begin selected by The Associated Press as its Male Athlete of the Year. The concern was that race car drivers are not athletes.
But they are. There's no question they are.
Anybody who has attended a race knows this. Athletics are a testament to many qualities, among them stamina, endurance, quickness and hard work. One of the most athletic moves I have ever seen was delivered by Jeff Gordon at Daytona International Speedway.
Two cars spun and wrecked in front of Gordon. Looking down from the press box, I could see no way for Gordon to escape. But relying on instinct, and his spotter, Gordon found an opening where none appeared to exist. He approached the torn metal like a too-quick point guard setting up his man off the dribble. Gordon eluded the carnage and sailed through.
Gordon was great. Johnson is the best driver I've ever seen. He was won an unprecedented four straight championships. His sustained excellence lifts him to the top of his sport, and nobody in any other sport has been as effective as he is.
Johnson is an athlete, and a champion, and he's worthy.