If you’re into being alive, you know that Caitlyn Jenner adorned the cover of Vanity Fair Monday. If you’re into sports, you know that she will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s. And if you’re into uninformed idiots on social media, you know that there was a post circulating that stated veteran, double-amputee soldier, and Dancing with Stars participant Noah Galloway came in second place for the award. The only problem is that is untrue.
Let’s take a moment to see how we got to that point. In case you forgot, Jenner was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and announced her new look and transition on the magazine, sending the internet into a frenzy.
In its Monday release, ESPN named Jenner the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, along with announcing that Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still and his daughter Leah—who has been battling cancer—would receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.
“Bruce [Jenner] has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time, but The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn,” ESPN executive producer Maura Mandt said. “She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.”
Jenner also offered a statement in the release.
“In the past few months, the overwhelming outpouring of support from all over the world for my journey has been incredible,” Jenner said. “However, being honored with this award, which is named after one of my heroes, is truly special. For the first time this July, I will be able to stand as my true self in front of my peers.”
Shortly afterward, a rumor that Galloway had placed runner-up to Jenner began to circulate, spawning memes that included messages of hate and putting down Jenner as undeserving, at best. After a day of the vitriol floating around the web, someone finally got to the bottom of it.
According to Snopes, the rumor can be traced back to radio host and Boston Herald columnist Gerry Callahan, who tweeted this out Monday:
While untrue and unfounded, it is clear that Callahan is of the opinion that Jenner was undeserving of the award, at least according to his Twitter timeline. How, you might ask, do we know this is untrue? Because ESPN has released several statements dispelling the notion, including one in which the company explicitly told MTV there is “no such thing as a runner up for the three major awards.”
But by the time that happened, memes like this had already caught fire:
The problem with the circulating memes is not that they raise up Galloway—the man is probably 10 times more courageous than myself—but that they tear down Jenner.
Normally, it’s fine if someone disagrees with the choice of the recipient of an award, even one as stupid as an ESPY—people do that in MVP races and DPOY literally every year. But this is not an award that can be measured by statistics like points per game, PER, or wins. This is an award ESPN doles out based on what they decide, not what is voted on, so anything you think is automatically arbitrary. If you don’t like who wins it, don’t watch the ESPY’s—simple as that.
The award does not dictate who is the most courageous person in the world, nor does it diminish what Galloway or Lauren Hill—who people also said should have been the recipient instead of Jenner—have accomplished. It’s simply something for ESPN to present to someone at their annual masturbatory awards show.
The problem with the false rumor is that people used the memes to put down Jenner, her transition and her identity. They stated that what she did lacked courage, with most of their hatred and distaste stemming from the fact that they did not understand what her process was like, which led to things like this:
If you’re mad about this, you’re mad because you were duped by an internet meme, or more likely, you don’t want Caitlyn Jenner to receive any praise for an incredibly difficult journey that hopefully results in her being happier. If that’s the case, you’re a scumbag who should hop out of everyone’s timelines and news feeds.
Photo via Frederick M. Brown/Getty