Joel McHale to Return as Host of Sports Illustrated Awards
The magazine also revealed on Thursday that honorees at the ceremony will include John Cena, Larry Nassar accuser Rachael Denhollander, Los Angeles Rams player Aaron Donald and New Orleans Saints star Alvin Kamara.
USA Gymnastics is clearly still reeling from the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal that rocked the sports world, as the sport's governing body revealed this week that it had filed for bankruptcy protection in the wake of lawsuits from Nassar's victims and their families.
But there is some good news to go along with this dark #MeToo chapter: Sports Illustrated on Thursday revealed its list of honorees for the 2018 Sportsperson of the Year Awards, and the magazine has chosen Rachael Denhollander as its Inspiration of the Year honoree.
Denhollander, a former gymnast who now works as a lawyer, was the first woman to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Nassar of sexual assault. She will be joined on the Beverly Hilton stage by Performer of the Year Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle); Breakout of the Year Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints running back); and SportsKid of the Year Leah Hayes (a record-setting swimmer who suffers from alopecia).
As previously announced, John Cena will accept the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award in recognition of his varied philanthropic efforts. But one can't use the words "John Cena" and "philanthropic" in the same sentence without referencing his unwavering commitment to the Make-A-Wish foundation, as the wrestler and part-time actor has granted more wishes on behalf of the organization than any other celebrity.
Also gracing the stage, likely with more jokes tucked in his back pocket than the others, will be Joel McHale, who is set to return for a second outing as the event's host. McHale even made a couple quips in Thursday's press release: "It’s a great night for athletes to be recognized for their achievements both on and off the court/field/dartboard. I also look forward to giving the Sportsperson of the Year Award to Meryl Streep for her performance with the Portland Trailblazers,” he stated.
On a more serious note, presenters at Tuesday's ceremony will include NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and actor Ike Barinholtz. The awards show will air two days later, on Dec. 13, on NBCSN. The Sportsperson of the Year honoree will be revealed on the cover of the Dec. 17 issue of Sports Illustrated, the same one that will feature the aforementioned honorees. The kudocast, presented by Symetra (retirement benefits and life insurance partner) with official sponsors Citi (credit card and mobile banking partner), JBL (sound partner) and Kaiser Permanente (health care partner), is being produced by Sports Illustrated and Group Nine's JASH.
Created by SI, the event is designed to "focus on the power of sports to amaze, inspire and surprise audiences," according to the magazine. Editor-in-chief Chris Stone explained a bit further: “Above all, a Sportsperson embraces a larger responsibility to channel their success into ways that benefit not just the sport they play, but the communities in which they live and the broader society that can take its cues from their example. Whether their voices are loud or soft, they are heard and they matter."