The Overdue Recognition of Deion Sanders as Sportsman of the Year

Deion Sanders was named first-team All-Pro in 1992 as an Atlanta Falcons cornerback and missed some games to play in the World Series for the Atlanta Braves. Sanders was critiqued for playing both sports at the same time, but he ended up being the best player in the World Series, batting .533 with a 1.255 OPS and stealing five bases. Deion Sanders wanted to show that he was the best athlete on earth, even better than Bo Jackson. Sanders was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year in 2023 for his work as the head coach of Colorado Buffaloes football. He transformed the team after securing 50 new players through transfers. Despite this, his Colorado team only won one game for the season after defeating Colorado State in overtime. Sanders was part of a generation of Black athletes who were unapologetic about their swagger and confidence. As an athlete, Sanders made a significant amount of money, but was not always respected or appreciated for his unique personality and athletic talents. He left an indelible mark on sports and pop culture, but this recognition is late, and for a lesser performance compared to his peak. Sanders was a trailblazing figure at a time when many did not want to see that, now, he’s easier to embrace as a cool dad.