It's official: Sports Illustrated is obsessed with us. After naming Megan Rapinoe its Sportsperson of the Year in 2019, the magazine deemed another Seattle athlete worthy of its venerable honor this year. On Sunday SI announced that Storm forward Breanna Stewart was one of five selected in 2020, dubbing it the year of the "activist athlete." The magazine's editors explained, "Our Sportsperson of the Year award goes to five men and women who in 2020 were champions in every sense of the word: champions on the field, champions for others off it."
Stewart, who missed the entire 2019 season after suffering a torn Achilles, led the Storm to its fourth WNBA title and second in the past three campaigns in 2020. Though her shooting numbers were a bit down in the league's pandemic-shortened bubble season, she took home Finals MVP after averaging more than 28 points per game during the Storm's three-game sweep of the Las Vegas Aces.
More importantly, she assumed a leading role in the WNBA's social justice work. On the league's opening night, she announced a 26-second moment of silence in honor of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black EMT killed by Louisville police in March. "She’s the kind of person who, when she knows that something is the right thing to do, is just matter-of-fact about doing it. I think we both approach speaking out in the same way: This is true, and I am going to say it," Rapinoe wrote of her fellow Seattleite for SI.
Sportsperson of the Year (formerly, and regrettably, Sportsman of the Year) may not carry the cachet that it once did, as Seattle-based media company Maven slashes journalist jobs at the once-revered magazine. But it's still a big deal, and Stewart is in very good company: LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif round out the list. Not bad.
Hopefully this raises the profile of the oft-overlooked "Stewie" here and everywhere else. Rapinoe thinks it's only a matter of time before Stewart supplants Rapinoe's partner, Sue Bird, as the team's most recognizable player. "Sue has been the face of the Storm, but as Stewie has found her voice over the past four years," Rapinoe wrote, "I’ve watched her blossom right beside her."