NEW YORK– Sports Illustrated announced that Houston athletes, J.J Watt of the Texans and Jose Altuve of the Astros, were named the magazine’s 2017 Sportspersons of the Year.
The duo will accept the honor at the Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year Award Show on December 5 at Barclays Center in New York.
Both Watt and Altuve were recognized for their contributions both on and off the field and for embodying the year’s theme of “Athletes Who Care”, according to a press release.
The pair are featured together on the cover of the magazine’s annual Sportsperson of the Year issue, which includes profiles of the athletes and highlights their impact.
“We will remember 2017 as much for what athletes strove to achieve off the field as for what they achieved on it,” said Chris Stone, Editorial Director of Sports at Time Inc. “While J.J. and José represent two very different paths, they both led to the same destination: #HoustonStrong. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of SI’s original ‘Athletes Who Care’ Sportsperson of the Year honor, which recognizes players who transcended sport alone. This year once again we celebrate a new generation of athletes who care, in all senses of the word: caring about humanitarian efforts, about social and political justice, about their communities and about their crafts.”
The Houston Texans’ Watt raised more than $37 million in Hurricane Harvey relief aid and served as a beacon for what an athlete can do with their platform beyond sports. As Peter King, Editor in Chief of The MMQB, points out, “Nothing J.J. Watt has achieved in his career, or might still achieve, will measure up to what he did for Houston.”
Said Watt: “All I did was give people a way to help… If I’m going to get an award, I feel like over 200,000 other people should too.”
Altuve, the Houston Astros’ second baseman and American League MVP, was a consistently underestimated player who rose to the top of his sport. The three-time batting champion was a key part of the team that brought Houston its first World Series Championship. He is recognized for giving back and inspiring a community when it needed it most.
Altuve told SI: “The city of Houston has treated me really good… I felt at that time that I owed them something. So when they were having a hard time, I wanted to give something back to them.”
Since 1954, Sports Illustrated has presented the annual Sportsperson of the Year award to the player, coach or team who has best personified the ideals of athletic achievement and sportsmanship, on and off the field. Watt and Altuve join a list of transcendental athletes that includes LeBron James, Serena Williams, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Wayne Gretzky. Watt is the seventh NFL athlete to be named Sportsperson of the Year, joining the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana. Altuve is the 17th MLB athlete to be named Sportsperson of the Year, joining names like Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr. and Sandy Koufax. This is the tenth time SI has chosen multiple Sportspersons of the Year; the most recent co-Sportsperson of the Year, former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt and Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, were awarded in 2011.