When I read the Associated Press Top 10 Sports Stories for 2010 it evoked a thin smile.
Without opening the story, one immediately sensed that the name Tiger Woods again was going to be splashed from coast to coast. And well it should be, despite protestations coming from the French Quarter and beyond.
It says a lot about what we’ve become that the fall of the Woods Empire, even if the disgrace proves temporary, would still reverberate louder than even those lovable New Orleans Saints and their star-crossed fans finally reaching the promised land. The voting was a no-brainer, really.
It served as another of the annual reminders that much happened on the sports landscape during the past 12 months. It’s so easy for us to forget amid the 24-hour daily blitz that often couples the monumental with the trivial, so a brief reminder each December can be a good thing, if nothing else to illuminate the path we’re on.
The Tiger Woods’ saga actually began during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2009, but it was the kind of story that kept on giving. The more so when the icon who truly transcended his sport, the one-man corporation who did everything but mint his own money while continuing at the top of his game and sport came crashing down beside us with a resounding thud.
Some would group his downfall and label this the year of the bad boys while hastily linking Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre to that concept. From there it’s a short leap to include the thugs who masquerade as college athletes and almost weekly are dismissed from programs for assaulting a current or former girlfriend. That truly is troubling.
Such an empty presentation for 2010 in sports completely misses the point. Simply, if Tiger Woods could topple from his pinnacle into disgrace and golfing insignificance, anything is possible.
What other theory is worth embracing for the past 12 months?
Now trot out the Saints for their crazy climb atop the Lombardi Trophy and its precarious perch. Don’t forget the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers reaching the World Series while the deepest-pocketed teams stayed home, and the Giants producing their first world title in 56 years.
The fact that Auburn and Oregon are prepping to meet in this year’s BCS title game. We’ve seen those universities in the same sentence for the past month now, but it’s quite possible that it really hasn’t yet become entrenched that one of them will be crowned champion.
Then consider Spain capturing a World Cup. Or Americans dazzling the winter world in Vancouver.
Just about everywhere we stepped in 2010 seemed like recently fallen snow. And just as Woods and the Saints brought in the year with incredible riches to ruin and rags to riches scenarios, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has put a lasting stamp on the year of the improbable.
Few even fathomed that UCLA’s streak of 88 consecutive college basketball victories could be approached, much less extended. That it was done so in the past week as we prepare to welcome a new succession to the sporting legacy provides the proper ending to 2010.
With so many scenarios, it is the only one to make sense. And in the same year that John Wooden, who constructed the original marathon test of relevance, quietly left the arena.
There’s little need to beat up ourselves over the LeBron James’ imbroglio, or whoever was found cheating on their sport or their spouse. Embrace 2010 not only for what it was, but for the promise and possibilities it already has incubated for 2011.