2012 might be the Year of the Short Person
December, 19, 2012
By Lynn Hoppes | ESPN.com
Getty Images, USA TODAY SportsIt's Olympic champ Gabby Douglas, NASCAR champ Brad Keselowski and Patriots WR Wes Welker.Gabby Douglas, all 4 feet 11 of her, won two Olympic gold medals at the Summer Games in London. Lionel Messi, at 5-7, has scored 90 goals this year and is the best soccer player in the world. And Brad Keselowski, who is 5-10, won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in November.
Is 2012 the Year of the Short Person?
We're not done yet.
The No. 1 video of the year is "Gangnam Style" by the 5-7 South Korean sensation PSY. The 4-9 Shawn Johnson finished second on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars" competition this fall. And the No. 1 movie of the week was "The Hobbit," about a 3-foot-tall adventurer.
And just last week, songwriter/singer Randy Newman, who wrote the song "Short People" in 1977, was announced as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"I think the bottom line is if you lack something in physical strength, you make up for it in mental and emotional toughness," said Dr. Gregg Steinberg, best-selling author and professor of human performance. "And these athletes have it."
Steinberg also said there is another factor for their success: self-esteem.
"I'm not talking about arrogance. I'm talking about being super confident in yourself and loving yourself," he said. "In the general public, people often don't have high self-esteem and you need that to be successful. It doesn't matter if it were sports or business."
Dr. Mitch Abrams, a sports psychologist, said, in most cases, size doesn't matter in sports -- except in certain cases (i.e. jockey, gymnast, etc.)
"I believe very strongly that if you have two people of equal qualification, no matter the size, the one who wants it more will get it," he said. "It's really a myth that height matters."
Freddie Patek, a shortstop who played 14 years in the big leagues, summed it up best in 1973: "I'd rather be the shortest player [5-5] in the majors than the tallest player in the minors."
Playbook looks at the best "short" -- we classify that as anyone under 6 feet tall -- people for 2012.
NAME: Russell Wilson
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsSeattle quarterback Russell Wilson will definitely get some consideration for Rookie of the Year.
POSITION: Seattle Seahawks quarterback
CLAIM TO FAME: The former Wisconsin quarterback was considered undersized for the NFL when he was drafted as the 75th pick in April's draft and many figured he'd be sitting the bench, learning from Matt Flynn. Instead, he has had a great season and should get some consideration for Rookie of the Year as he has led the Seahawks to a 9-5 record with 21 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. In the spring, Wilson told ESPN that height "doesn't define my skill set. I play like I'm a 6-2 or 6-3 quarterback."
NAME: Rory McIlroy
Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty ImagesRory McIlroy was the top golfer this past season in the United States and Europe.
POSITION: PGA golfer
CLAIM TO FAME: Tiger who? The 23-year-old Northern Irishman was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year after winning four events, including the PGA Championship, in the United States and the World Tour Championship in Dubai. He won both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles.
NAME: Gabby Douglas
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesGabby Douglas wants to repeat as Olympic all-around champ -- a feat no American woman has ever accomplished.
POSITION: Olympic gymnast
CLAIM TO FAME: Douglas was considered "just" a member of the U.S. women's Olympic team when she headed to London this past summer. But winning the all-around gold and helping the team win gold vaulted her to the top of the heap and set her on her way. She wrote an autobiography and was one of Barbara Walters' "Most Fascinating People of 2012." And this week, Douglas was chosen by Forbes magazine for its "30 Under 30" list of top achievers under 30 years old in their fields.
NAME: Brad Keselowski
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/NASCAREveryone loves Brad Keselowski's style of racing and his brash attitude.
POSITION: NASCAR Sprint Cup driver
CLAIM TO FAME: Keselowski has the brashness of Tony Stewart and the driving skills of Jimmie Johnson and showed that NASCAR has a new sheriff in town by winning the championship this season. He won five races and showed he's down-to-earth by appearing "buzzed" on ESPN's "SportsCenter."
NAME: Georges St-Pierre
Jon Kopaloff/Getty ImagesGeorges St-Pierre returned from injury this year to crush Carlos Condit and has set his sights on Nick Diaz.
POSITION: Mixed martial arts fighter
CLAIM TO FAME: One of the best fighters pound-for-pound returned from an injury and didn't miss a beat, destroying Carlos Condit this fall. St-Pierre (23-2) will head into his spring match with Nick Diaz riding a 10-fight win streak. He has successfully defended the welterweight title seven times during his second reign as champion.
NAME: Floyd Mayweather
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesFloyd Mayweather is still the best fighter in the world and hopes for two fights in 2013.
CLAIM TO FAME: Money Mayweather was waiting in the wings for Manny Pacquiao to step into the ring with him, but that probably won't happen now. Still, he is the most feared man in boxing, having never lost as a pro (43-0). He is hoping to fight twice in 2013. Mayweather told Fight Club TV: "It's been a great year for me. It's been a great year because I'm still living, I'm still breathing, I'm still healthy, and I'm still going strong. I don't have to always go strong in the ring just to be happy or be satisfied. I'm satisfied with life, you know, just in general."
NAME: Lionel Messi
Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty ImagesLionel Messi has scored 90 goals this season and just signed a contract extension.
POSITION: Soccer star
CLAIM TO FAME: He is known as the best soccer player in the world. The Argentina and Barcelona star also just became the all-time single-year scoring champion, netting 90 goals (and counting) in 2012. He's got Spanish league titles, UEFA Champions League titles and, despite his stature, is famous for not falling to the ground -- whether he has been hit hard or not. Not bad for a man who left Argentina for Barcelona at age 13. On Tuesday, Messi agreed to a new contract with Barcelona that will keep him with the Spanish powerhouse through 2018.
NAME: Wes Welker
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesWes Welker became the first player to have 100 receptions in five seasons.
POSITION: New England Patriots wide receiver
CLAIM TO FAME: Welker became the first player in NFL history to have 100 pass receptions in five seasons when he caught a 12-yard pass from Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s loss to the 49ers. He signed a one-year deal in May for about $9 million. Although he's 31, he doesn't look like he's slowing down.
Vallery Jean/FilmMagic/Getty IImagesPsy's "Gangnam Style" was the sensation that swept the nation, even though most people had no idea what it was.
CLAIM TO FAME: Politics aside, Psy of South Korea stormed on the scene with his "Gangnam Style" and hasn't looked back. It's the most watched video in YouTube history with more than 970 million views, beating Justin Bieber's "Baby." Oh, Bieber didn't have too shabby of a year with the release of his album and he also is 5-7.
NAME: Bilbo Baggins
Mark Pokorny/WBBilbo Baggins' movie "The Hobbit" made $84.6 million in its first weekend.
HEIGHT: 3 feet
CLAIM TO FAME: Baggins helped the movie "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" gross $37.5 million in North America on opening day and $84.6 million for the first weekend. Although the reviews were mixed, the movie was the highest opening weekend for a December release, beating the $77 million earned by Will Smith's "I Am Legend."