I’ve always heard it said that sports builds character. 2011 has left many of us wondering exactly what kind of character it is that sports builds. Below are the ten most significant sports stories of 2011 as determined by me. This list includes the excellent, the absurd and the criminal. While no year in sports goes without its share of police blotter, 2012 took it to a level we haven’t seen since Bob Costas interrupted your regularly scheduled NBA game to tell us that Al Cowlings was driving his white Ford Bronco down the interstate with an old friend riding shotgun.
10. Women’s World Cup
If you market women’s professional sports well, the talent is good and the season only lasts for about two weeks every four years, people will watch. Please take note or go away.
After one of the best post seasons since Jordan went away, the NBA decided to take a few steps back with a labor dispute that ate up a few months out of the season. Here’s to hoping that the NBA sticks with this shortened schedule and eliminates a few franchises as well (I’m looking at you New Orleans. And Toronto. And Memphis. Okay, why not. And the Knicks).
8. Lebron and the Heat
One reason why the NBA had such a successful post season last year was because everyone wanted to see a team that threw itself a world championship party before the season started not win that world championship. We got our wish.
7. Ryan Braun
It turns out that the steroid era in baseball may not be over after all. Will anyone ever win a significant single season individual award in Major League Baseball without having a cloud of suspicion as to whether or not he was cheating? This is just one of many reasons why baseball has ceased to be our national pastime.
6. The Cardinals
But it wasn’t all bad for Major League Baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals proved that it’s more fun to wait until the last possible moment to win games and championships. They also proved that the Yankees aren’t the only team that will overpay for your best player after you win it all.
5. Mark Richt
After the Georgia Bulldogs lost their first two games of the season they wanted to run their head coach out of town. After they finished out the rest of the schedule without another loss Georgia fans were scurrying for tickets to the SEC title game. After Georgia started to take their beating from an LSU team that would probably win the NFC East the Georgia fans left early and resumed their favorite pastime – cursing the coaching staff while listening to Corey Smith. Remind me again why I call myself a Georgia fan.
4. Jon Bones Jones
The UFC is the fastest growing sport in the world and its best athlete is a young man named Jon Jones. In 2011 he became a number one contender for the light heavyweight title. On the day that he was scheduled to fight for that title he chased down and beat up a man who was trying to rob a couple. A few hours later he would win the fight he had actually been training for and become the light heavyweight champion. Since that night Jones has easily defended his title twice against two former champions.
The UFC may not be your thing and that’s okay. But if you long to see greatness that hasn’t been seen since the days of Ali, you need to see Jon Jones.
The drivers are all mad at each other. One of them is named Wally.
The drivers would like to thank their sponsors.
The drivers are not athletes.
If NASCAR is on a TV anywhere within a 20 mile radius of me, I’m falling asleep.
2. Tebow Time
Tim Tebow makes people stupid.
He makes so called expert analysts look dumb when they try to explain to us that he has nothing to do with the teams success.
His supporters look dumb when they wear his jersey with Jesus written on the back and preach sermons about him on Sundays (Tebow, not Jesus).
Tim Tebow is an incredible athlete who looks and acts different than most other incredible athletes. He’s not fluid and he’s not a jerk. He’s an imperfect player and an imperfect man. It just so happens that imperfect fans like that sort of thing.
1. Penn State
There’s nothing more to say about Penn State.
But we can pray that justice will be served and that the victims will find redemption in Jesus Christ.