I haven't seen if Zirin has reacted the news that a race car driver beat out arguably the Fastest Man Ever to Exist for athlete of the year. But I guess he will think it awfully stupid, and he'll be right.
I mean, seriously. Here's the one sentence recap of what Bolt did in 2009 (courtesy of Wikipedia): In August 2009, a year after the Beijing Olympics, he lowered his own 100 m and 200 m world records to 9.58 s and 19.19 s respectively at the 2009 World Championships. His record breaking margin in 100 m is the highest since the start of digital time measurements.
Hey, great for Jimmie Johnson--enjoy this weird cultural blip where NASCAR is considered a sport, and not a pastime or activity. I'm not saying that it isn't dangerous, or doesn't require some super hand-eye coordination, or doesn't have some interesting things to watch. Sweating in a hot box and staying focused for 5 hours or whatever does not compare to being the single fastest dude ever. It just can't. Or at least, shouldn't.
Only in America would this decision have even been pondered. The Laureus Awards (based in Europe) has been known to give their Sportsman of the Year award to race car drivers (not NASCAR, though--they seem to prefer drivers who have to turn in more than one direction). This year they gave the award to Usain Bolt. Why? Because it's a no-brainer!
Shitty job, AP! I would have surprised if you hadn't fucked it up, though. Thanks for keeping my world view safely intact.