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Swimming Stars Kate Douglass And Leon Marchand Snubbed for ‘Best College Athlete’ Nominations

Published 06/22/2023, 1:09 PM EDT

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The swimming community is disappointed as Kate Douglass and Leon Marchand were excluded from the nominations for the prestigious 2023 ESPY award for “Best College Athlete.” This snub highlights the persistent lack of recognition that swimming receives in the mainstream world of sports. As fans express their discontent, it becomes evident that the ESPY nominations tend to prioritize popularity and entertainment value. 

This often results in athletes from more widely followed sports such as football, basketball, and softball receiving preferential treatment over those with exceptional performances and achievements in other sports. Despite their exceptional NCAA seasons and record-breaking accomplishments, Douglass and Marchand find themselves overlooked, sparking debate and disappointment within the swimming community.

Douglass and Marchand’s extraordinary achievements

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Kate Douglass and Leon Marchand have left an indelible mark on NCAA swimming through their awe-inspiring performances and record-breaking feats. Both Douglass and Marchand achieved an incredible feat by winning three individual titles at the 2023 NCAA Championships, thereby etching their names into the annals of swimming history.

Their accomplishments extended beyond the NCAA stage, as both swimmers set multiple national-level records. Douglass broke American records in the 100 fly, 200 IM, and 200 breaststrokes, highlighting her exceptional skill and dominance in these events. Likewise, Marchand left an indelible mark by breaking French records in the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 breaststrokes, further solidifying his status as a standout talent.

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While both Douglass and Marchand have achieved unprecedented success within the NCAA swimming realm, their omission from the ESPY nominations highlights a systemic bias favoring more popular sports.

ESPYs and the pursuit of entertainment value

The ESPY Awards, known as the “Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards,” presented by ESPN, aim to honor outstanding performances in sports each year. While not exclusive to Americans, the awards show primarily caters to an American audience, and nominees often come from sports that enjoy substantial popularity within the United States. However, this inclination toward entertainment and popularity is evident in the selection process, where online fan voting plays a significant role in determining the winners.

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Critics argue that the ESPY nominations may not accurately reflect the true measure of athletic excellence, particularly in lesser-known sports like swimming. Although swimmers such as Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel have previously received recognition, largely due to their Olympic and Paralympic successes, the ESPYs have shown limited acknowledgment for swimmers’ accomplishments beyond their international achievements. This pattern of oversight raises questions about the fairness and objectivity of the nomination process, leaving swimmers like Douglass and Marchand overshadowed despite their remarkable collegiate performances.

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As the swimming community reflects on this missed opportunity and advocates for greater recognition, there is hope for improved promotion and acknowledgment of swimming’s greatest talents in the future. The disappointment surrounding the exclusion of Kate Douglass and Leon Marchand from the ESPY nominations serves as a catalyst for discussions and calls for change within the sports industry.

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Written by:

Sahithya

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Sahithya is a US sports and entertainment content writer for Essentially Sports. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the sports industry. She delivers insightful and engaging articles that keep her readers up-to-date with the latest happenings in the world of sports.
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Edited by:

Jayant Chhabra