Derek Jeter is a captain of the New York Yankees and, by definition, a leader of that team.
He has helped the Yankees win five World Series championships and has done nothing off the field to sully his image or that of the team.
The players love him. Fans adore him.
All qualities of a great leader ... of a sports team.
But Fortune magazine may have taken Jeter-worship to a ridiculous new level by naming the Yankees shortstop the 11th greatest leader in the world.
Not just the sports world, mind you, but the entire planet.
Perhaps we can take comfort in the fact that Jeter failed to join the likes of Pope Francis (No. 1), Bill Clinton (No. 5) and the Dalai Lama (No. 9) in the top 10.
But not when taking into account the criteria laid out in the one-sentence introduction to the online photo gallery that presents the list: “energizing their followers and making the world better.”
OK, so Jeter fits the bill for the first one, at least for the handful of guys he’s played with and rabid Yankees fans (there are quite a few of them).
But what exactly has Jeter done to make the world better? Sorry, but not making a fool of yourself -- while quite an accomplishment in this day and age -- just doesn’t seem quite good enough.
The brief writeup about Jeter doesn’t really shed much light on the bizarre choice. After noting that he’s an ideal role model, the Fortune writers state, “In a steroid-tainted, reality-TV era, Jeter, the son of two Army veterans, continues to stand out because of his old-school approach: Never offer excuses or give less than maximum effort.”
Take that, No. 12 Geoffrey Canada, founder and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, a hugely successful New York City program that has given more than 12,000 children education, social and medical help starting at birth.
Or No. 34 Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old girl who continues to advocate for education rights even after being shot by the Taliban for doing just that in 2012.
While Jeter is the only athlete on the list, there is also a trio of basketball coaches (Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley) tied at No. 20, and Johns Hopkins swimming Coach George Kennedy at No. 36. They all seem to have made the cut based on their successes.
Sure, they’re all great coaches and probably good people too, but are there really only 19 or 35 other people making the world a better place more than them?
At this point I think we can all agree it’s a pretty strange list. See for yourself.