A year in the sports world
1. Headshots and concussions
Both the NHL and NFL were dominated by one question this year: Is the game too violent? It started with the NFL cracking down on helmet-to-helmet hits after a rash of head injuries and then continued with what’s now being called a crisis in the NHL as headshots and concussions are piling up like never before, with even Sidney Crosby, the face of the league missing significant time after taking two hits to the head.The NFL implemented rule changes banning tacklers making contact with opponents’ heads, while the NHL is still scrambling to find a solution to this ‘crisis,’ discussing multiple rule changes.
2. The new ‘Big Three’
Now a punch line, LeBron James elected to “take his talents to South beach” in
July, joining fellow all stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. So far, they’ve cried
after a regular season loss, and been booed in nearly every city they play, all while changing professional basketball for the foreseeable future, as well as deterring potential fans of the game.
3. Canada falls at World Juniors
Canada’s World Junior Collapse – Coach Cameron’s charges were 20 minutes away from capturing gold in an improbably dominant performance throughout the World Junior tournament. Yet five third periodgoals (including two in 13 seconds) from the Russians stunned the nation, and forced Canada to take a bitter silver for the second year in a row.
4. Giants win World Series
Behind the arm of a 26 year old stoner nicknamed “The Freak”, the San Francisco Giants managed to muster up enough offense to win their first World Series title since moving to the bay 56 years earlier, proving strong pitching can make anything possible in October.
5. World Cup
Spain wins the country’s first ever World Cup of soccer after an extra-time goal by Andres Iniesta against the Netherlands. Spain falters out of the gate early, but finds its game as the tourney wears on and effectively unites and lifts the financially-troubled country to glory.
6. Michael Vick’s return to glory
Perhaps the most polarizing figure in sports, Mike Vick took over the Eagles starting QB position after an injury, and never looked back. He was a potential MVP after putting up the best stats of his career, and won comeback player of the year. He also produced some video game like highlights, making for a memorable season.
7. Ilya Kovalchuk
Ilya Kovalchuk’s 15-year, $100-million contract with the New Jersey Devils takes months to negotiate and finalize by the NHL. The league deems the contract counter-intuitive to the “spirit of the collective-bargaining-agreement” and of circumventing the Devils’ salary cap. The contract forces the league to review other long-term deals such as Roberto Luongo’s and Marc Savard’s.
8. Milos Raonic pust Canadian tennis on the map
Emerging onto the world tennis stage was Canadian Milos Raonic, the 20-year old Thornhill native. Raonic has won multiple ATP tourneys and is currently ranked 34th in the world (the highest position a Canadian men’s singles tennis player has ever reached) after starting the year at 150th.
9. Jose takes a ‘Bau’tista
The Jays’ slugger came out of nowhere to lead the majors with 54 home runs, 12 more than second-place Albert Pujols. In his previous six seasons combined, Bautista only hit 59 home runs, never hitting more than 16 in one season.
10. The NHL’s Dominant Youth
Among those 23 years of age and under in the NHL this season, two are captains (Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews), ten lead their teams in scoring (as of March 26th), and among nine different franchises, it can be easily argued that 23 and unders are the face of their respective organizations. The predominance of youth in the league is unprecedented in its history, and it is safe to say that the talent level of the league is safe for years to come.