2018 Man of the Year: U.S. Open Chair Umpire Carlos Ramos

Serena Williams argues with umpire Carlos Ramos
Serena Williams argues with umpire Carlos Ramos / Getty Images

Sportsmanship is a dying virtue in the age of anthem-kneeling and bat-flipping, but it has an unwavering guardian in tennis umpire Carlos Ramos. Certified as a gold badge chair umpire by the International Tennis Federation, Ramos is a man of the utmost professionalism, which he showed by having the balls to penalize the game's biggest female star when she threw a tantrum at the U.S. Open final.

In an act of unbridled aggression on the court, 23-time grand-slam winner Serena Williams demanded Ramos apologize for his obviously correct decision to issue her a warning for receiving signals from her coach, before losing her temper and verbally abusing Ramos. He had tolerated her caterwauling with patience—only ruling on the technical violations of her receiving coaching and destroying her racket—before justly imposing a game penalty when she crossed the line and called him a "liar" and a "thief," an indisputable case of verbal abuse as defined in tennis rules.

At that point, her vituperations had exceeded not only the bounds of decorum but also appeared to be desperate attempts to disrupt the focus of her 20-year-old opponent, Naomi Osaka. But Osaka closed out the championship, and Ramos held firm amidst a chorus of lusty jeering.

An extended round of media bellyaching ensued, driven by Williams and her lackeys, but Ramos refused to make it about himself. He told the Portuguese Tribuna Expresso, "Do not worry about me," and instead turned the matter to the principle on which his job as chair umpire rests: "It's a delicate situation, but ‘à la carte' arbitration does not exist." His magnanimity is even more laudable given the nasty, baseless accusations of sexism he received from the Williams camp and her media flunkeys.

For epitomizing class, judgment, and restraint in a moment of trial on the biggest stage in his profession, Carlos Ramos earned the title of Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.