Where Does The Callahan Award Go From Here?

The Callahan has seemingly exceeded the boundaries of its original criteria. How did we get here and what does that mean?

John Stubbs accepting the 2017 Callahan award. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

The Callahan is the most famous award in ultimate, but what winning the award really means is somewhat unclear.

Generally, the criteria for an award should tell you what you need to know about its meaning. When Damien Chazelle won his Best Director Oscar in February, we all knew what that golden statuette represented — at least a plurality of the Academy voters believed that he had done the best job of directing a film released in 2016.

But with the Callahan award, it’s a bit of a different story. What is on paper an award for a player’s performance over the course of single season has morphed into something else. The amorphous criteria of the award, the way voters consume ultimate content, and the need we feel to award those who “deserve” recognition have resulted in years of precedent that has changed the definition of what a Callahan winner is. Whether you want to call it a career achievement award, a best Callahan video award, or a “played the best on ESPN the previous year” award, it’s clear that the Callahan has become something more than simply honoring the best player from the current season.

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  1. Patrick Stegemoeller

    Patrick Stegemoeller is a Senior Staff Writer for Ultiworld, co-host of the Sin The Fields podcast, and also a lawyer who lives in Brooklyn.

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