Peyton Is Number 1 – At Least on the Internet

Sure it makes sense that Peyton tops the list. My question is, how did Lamar Odom make it?

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. After sitting out the 2011 season with a neck injury and then signing with the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning has returned to the field in 2012 more popular than ever. How popular? According to the search engine Bing, he’s the most popular athlete in the world. Well, at least the year’s most searched, taking over the top spot from Maria Sharapova, who was the most searched athlete in 2011. She slipped to fourth this year.

The rest of the top 10 includes Tiger Woods, Tim Tebow, Kobe Bryant, Serena Williams, Lamar Odom, Lebron James, Christiano Ronaldo, and Terrell Owens.

A couple of things jump out at me looking at this list. Tiger is a no brainer, as is Tim Tebow, who, though he might not see a lot of action on the field, continues to dominate media discussion now that he plays in the mainstream media capital of the world.

Kobe and Lebron also aren’t really surprises. Neither is Christiano Ronaldo, who, in addition to being among the best players of the most popular sport in the world, is hot. I suspect that at least half the searches for him are for pictures of him shirtless and not to find out whether Real Madrid won its most recent Champions League tilt.

What I find interesting, though, is that two women’s tennis players made the list, but not a single male, despite the fact that the men usually dominate mainstream media coverage of the sport. I’m also surprised that not a single Olympian cracked the top 10. Where is Michael Phelps? Where Gabby Douglas?

Finally, I have to ask, what the hell are Lamar Odom and Terrell Owens doing on there? Despite being back in Los Angeles with the Clippers, Odom’s averaging all of 1.4 points per game, shooting 21% from the floor, and Owens hasn’t caught a pass in almost two years. I guess, if nothing else, reality television drives traffic.

You can find the full list here.

Photo: Denis Poroy, AP

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About Liam Day

Liam Day has been a youth worker, teacher, campaign manager, political pundit, communications director, and professional basketball player. His poems have appeared at Slow Trains Apt, and Wilderness House Literary Review. His op-eds and essays have appeared in Annalemma Stymie, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. He lives in Boston, where he works as a public health professional. He is the Sports Editor at The Good Men Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @LiamDay7.

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