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Deion Sanders Named Sports Illustrated’s 2023 Sportsperson of the Year

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by Paulina Isaac

December 2, 2023

Deion Sanders is being honored by Sports Illustrated as their 2023 Sportsperson of the Year!

The University of Colorado Boulder football program coach has completely overhauled the team for the better. He was tasked with transforming the football program and has done just that so far by garnering excitement surrounding the team again. Coach Prime ended his first season as head coach of the CU Buffs with a 4-8 record. Even though the team placed last in the PAC 12, he brought positive attention to Colorado football for the first time in years.

“The Oregon game, I’ve forgotten it,” Sanders said of his team’s lone blowout to that point. “I’ve moved past it. The others stay with me. Three points, seven points—details, consistency. We want to win now.”

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Mark Heinritz, co-owner of The Sink, a bar within a 10-minute walk of Folsom Field, speaks to the excitement surrounding the program: “It has that 1990s energy all over again. There were a lot of discussions over a couple decades of, ‘Why do we have football?’ This is why we have football.”

But the Prime Effect on Boulder, a quirky, affluent, and predominantly white city of 108,000 that is picturesquely situated northwest of Denver at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, is not just a feeling. It’s a fact. The numbers don’t lie, and if you visit Boulder, the convention and visitors bureau calculates that the total economic impact of the first four home games—where attendance was up by nearly a third over last year—was an estimated $77.8 million.

“Boulder felt kind of beaten up, or beaten down, through the pandemic,” says city council member Rachel Friend. “Our potholes haven’t been filled as readily, we can’t figure out how to get unhoused people what they need, and we’ve had a notable increase in that population. There is a cash infusion [from football into the economy] that means more potholes are going to be filled. People living here and visiting here are going to be taken care of better.”

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Sports Illustrated has crowned Sanders their 2023 Sportsperson of the Year, not just for what he’s done on the field but for what he’s done for an entire community. And if this is only year one, there is no telling what Coach Prime can do in the coming seasons.

(Cover photo: Deion Sanders Named Sports Illustrated’s 2023 Sportsperson of the Year/Photo by Jeffery A. Salter/Sports Illustrated)

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