The Gatorade Player of the Year awards are given annually to male and female high-school student-athletes in the United States. They are given for boys' baseball, boys' football, girls' softball, girls' volleyball, boys' basketball, girls' basketball, boys' cross country, girls' cross country, boys' soccer, girls' soccer, boys' track & field, and girls' track & field.
A "State Player of the Year" award is given to the best student-athlete in each of the twelve sports in the District of Columbia and each of the fifty states, where each sport is recognized as an interscholastic sport. Selection is based on three criteria: athletic achievement, academic excellence, and exemplary character (including sportsmanship, and participation in community and other activities). Twelve "National Player of the Year" awards are then given, to the best student-athlete in each of the twelve sports, chosen from the state winners in the respective sport.
Finally, one male Athlete of the Year and one female Athlete of the Year are selected from the twelve National Player of the Year recipients. The two winners are voted on by a national panel that includes approximately 400 sports journalists, coaches, and others. The two athletes of the year receive their awards at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards, in Los Angeles, California.
The Gatorade Company established these awards in 1985. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE, which is ESPN's division for high-school sports.
Past national winners include Peyton Manning and Emmitt Smith for football, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant for basketball, Allyson Felix for track and field, and Kerri Walsh for volleyball.