The Ballon d’Or was awarded yesterday - Leo Messi won on the men’s side (for the 7th time) and Alexia Putellas won on the women’s side. Viv Miedema came in 4th. Bukayo Saka came in 6th for the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best under-21 player.
Here’s the thing about awards and award shows: they’re fun but they don’t really matter. People get so worked up about who wins, who comes in second, where everybody was ranked, who got snubbed, and why. It shouldn’t (and isn’t) a personal affront when your favorite player (or the person you thought should win) doesn’t win the award.
Robert Lewandowski has been the best player on the men’s side for the last two seasons combined. I think he would have won in 2020 had the award been given. Sure, Messi is still Messi. He’s an incredible player. But he is clearly in the twilight of his career, and he has acknowledged as much. Even he said that Lewandowski deserved a Ballon d’Or.
I don’t have as much beef with the women’s side, although I would take Viv over anybody in the world right now if I were building a team. I’d also point out that Canada won the gold medal at the Olympics but only had players finish 6th, 8th, and 9th. That feels low.
I’ve written about this before (or maybe just tweeted, who knows), but there is a part of me that wishes we didn’t feel compelled to rank great players — their seasons, their careers, whatever. I understand that it can be a fun thing to do and that as humans, we understand things in comparison to other things. We are hardwired to compare and rank stuff.
But ranking can take focus away from the incredible things that athletes do. We get so wrapped up in who or what is better that we don’t spend as much time celebrating and appreciating greatness. Does it really matter which was the best Arsenal goal among Bergkamp’s against Newcastle, Giroud’s scorpion kick, or the Norwich goal? Not really. They were all awesome!
Just show me clips of stars doing absurdly talented things, thanks.