Nominees for the 2010 Al Copeland Humanitarian Award

It’s time again to consider nominees for the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award.  The award is meant to honor a person who has made a significant contribution to improving the human condition.

The criteria of the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award can be summarized by quoting our original blog post in which we sang the praises of Al Copeland and all that he did for humanity:

Al Copeland may not have done the most to benefit humanity, but he certainly did more than many people who receive such awards.  Chicago gave Bill Ayers their Citizen of the Year award in 1997.  And the Nobel Peace Prize has too often gone to a motley crew including unrepentant terrorist, Yassir Arafat, and fictional autobiography writer, Rigoberta Menchu.   Local humanitarian awards tend to go to hack politicians or community activists.  From all these award recipients you might think that a humanitarian was someone who stopped throwing bombs… or who you hoped would picket, tax, regulate, or imprison someone else.

Al Copeland never threatened to bomb, picket, tax, regulate, or imprison anyone.  By that standard alone he would be much more of a humanitarian.  But Al Copeland did even more — he gave us spicy chicken.”

Last year’s winner was Debrilla M. Ratchford, who significantly improved the human condition by inventing the rollerbag, beating out Steve Henson, who gave us ranch dressing,  Fasi Zaka, who ridiculed the Taliban,  Ralp Teetor, who invented cruise control, and Mary Quant, who popularized the miniskirt.

This year I would like to nominate The Most Interesting Man in the World.

The Most Interesting Man has improved the human condition by modeling “the good life.”  In an age that lionizes anti-heroes, slackers, and losers, it is nice to be reminded of what masculine virtue can look like (even if Harvey Mansfield would find that redundant).

Yes, The Most Interesting Man is fictional, but the award is for a “person,” which I believe could include a fictional person.  In the past we have focused on entrepreneurs as nominees for the Al Copeland Humanitarian Award, with the purpose of emphasizing how inventors and business people can improve the human condition much more than the politicians and activists who more typically receive such awards.

But I think we should expand our set to include the idea of a person.  The creation of that idea — whoever developed the ad campaign — could be at least as important for improving the human condition as the creation of a business or product.

The floor is now open for other nominations.

7 Responses to Nominees for the 2010 Al Copeland Humanitarian Award

  1. Collin Hitt says:

    Stan Honey, inventor of the yellow first down line:

    Note the adaptation of a failed idea in to a revolutionary one.

  2. Good suggestion, Collin. But can you state exactly how this has improved the human condition?

  3. You’re still left with the problem of determining who has the requisite qualities to accept the award for The Most Interesting Man when he, inevitably, wins.

  4. Collin Hitt says:

    Americans, of their own free will, watch sports. None is more the family sport than football. There is no metaphysical necessity to watching football – plenty of countries don’t care for it, or even know about football. But making football more enjoyable is something that improves the lives of almost every American.

    Football is a simple game: keep getting first downs until you score. The end zone is instantly recognizable. So are the uprights. So a touchdown or a field goal are easily noticeable, at a glance. Not so for first downs.

    Most of the game is spent trying to get a first down. Games are won and lost between the chains. And yet, until Stan Honey, the first down mark was often impossible to track for those watching from home.

    At most, 750,000 people are watching the NFL from the stands. The rest of America is either working or watching from home. A broken play, a sack, an end-around, a nine-and-a-half yard run, a muddy junked-up field – all would leave the at-home viewer disoriented, confused about the play’s relevance to the all-important first down. In time, yes, the announcers and the referees would let us know where things stood. But this is America, and we want our information now. Instant closure, Stan Honey gave us that.

    Football is also now watchable at a glance. Before Stan Honey, it’s not inconceivable that I might have been reaching for a spicy chicken leg, perhaps my fourth of the day, when the ball was snapped. Yes, I knew it was 3rd and 4, but now I’d lost my frame of reference. Where is the line of scrimmage? The first down marker? That terrible feeling of helpless, frameless, cluelessness is now gone. I might miss the snap, but at a glance I know the situation. I’ll know the millisecond the play ends whether it was a failure or a success.

    Moreover, the stupid questions from the peanut gallery (some people call these folks their family), have become fewer. “How far do they have to go?” “Did he get it?” “He got eight yards. That’s good right?” When is the last time you heard someone ask one of those questions? (It was before 2001.) Everyone now knows: get past the yellow line.

    Stan Honey made watching football with football novices tolerable. It has allowed people to pour earnest effort into snacking between commercial breaks. It has made an all American sport more American.

    In case you question the impact that Stan Honey has had on America, think back to the last time that the announcers said “We’re having some trouble with the yellow first down line you usually see across your screen at home.” Technology being technology, the yellow line machine breaks from time to time, and when it does, life is awful.

  5. matthewladner says:

    Collin makes a strong case…and yet the Most Interesting Man in the World is still the best campaign ever.

    I’m torn…

  6. Patrick says:

    “Fellas, leave the tight pants to the ladies. If I can count the coins in your pocket, you’d better use them to call a tailor.”

    That advice alone is worth the award. LoL.

  7. Daniel Earley says:

    Years ago when I was single, in my vain attempts to explain political strategies of incrementalism to prospective girlfriends, I often used the first down as what I imagined the perfect metaphor. Hence my finally getting married at 43.

    Today, young political hacks can remain as clueless as I was, but marry earlier. Whether this improves the human condition though….

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