If ever there was a year to forget, 2011 was that year. It goes without saying that sports fans took an absolute beating in 2011 and I know I speak for many of us in saying that we're more than excited to be moving on to greener pastures (photo pun intended).
2011 was a year of sensationalism, where everything managed to take a back seat to some of the most lurid and atrocious stories the world of sports has ever seen. It seems only fitting to beat the dead horse one last time and review what truly characterized 2011 for sports fans.
The End Of Innocence
Offer up your best defense
But this is the end
This is the end of the innocence
- Don Henley, "The End of Innocence"
College sports used to be about the purity of the game. It used to be a place of solace for fans who were fed up with the money-grubbing and laziness of professional sports. Maybe that was all just a fairy tale.
2011 taught us that there is no more innocence in sports, especially at the college level, where personal interest and sordid lifestyles came to the surface and stunned the nation. Cheating and improper payments scandals at Ohio State and the University of Miami took a back seat to child sex scandals at Penn State and Syracuse. As details rolled in, the levels of disgust just built up. Two of the greatest coaches in their sports history will forever be tarnished, their inaction off the field of play forever staining anything they did on it.
Three Strikes (?) And You're Out
For it's 1...2...3 strikes you're out at the old ball game.
- Take Me Out To The Ball Game
Speaking of greed and personal interest, we had not one, not two, but three labor deals come to an end in 2011, with the NFL, NBA, and MLB all needing to renegotiate their accords between players and owners. Both the NFL and the NBA swung and missed, with player lockouts and media sniping becoming media and blog fodder for months on end. The NBA even lost close to a quarter of their season of two percentage points. Both sports took on huge black eyes in the affair, with neither side in the argument looking either innocent or victorious when all was said and done.
MLB, obviously learning from the mistakes of their distant cousins, laid the ground work for a new deal early on, so that all that needed to be done was dotting the "i's" and crossing the "t's", averting yet more fan backlash against an industry that thrives despite an economy killing its patrons.
All Praise Tebow...
"Don't ever ask your
love of me."
- Nirvana, "Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam"
Love him or hate him, Tim Tebow was all the rage once the NFL season finally got underway. The media clung to him like they were looking for an invite to the Last Supper, while fans and comedians thrashed him for the idolatry that was placed upon him and the focus on his faith. Yes, he found a way to revive a down Broncos team and heading into this Sunday, has a chance to lead them to the playoffs. And he did all this while remaining a staunch Christian, making people wonder if God really did have a plan for Saint Timmy. However, his play on the field has been under whelming at best and the team's turnaround can be pinned on a defense which clamped down and kept the team in the hunt to allow for late-game heroics.
Still, the media loves a hero, and regardless of Tebow's role in it, it gave them something a little more wholesome to latch onto than the sins of greed and lust which were running rampant at the time.
You're getting closer
You're holding the rope and I'm taking the fall
'Cause I'm a loser, I'm a loser, yeah,
- Three Doors Down, "Loser"
There are mixed feelings about the end of the MLB season. Many fans were thrilled with the fact that what once looked like an eventuality for both Boston and Atlanta turned into one of the best pennant races since the inception of the Wild Card. However, the fans of those teams could only watch as the gallows were pushed out and the teams hung themselves on the chains they'd been dragging with them all along.
Atlanta handled their defeat with dignity and respect. Boston, on the other hand, did not. No sooner had the season ended when the finger pointing and character assassinations started. Defections inevitably occurred and reorganization followed.
Still, MLB enjoyed one of their best October's in recent memory and some of the most underrated teams in the game got the attention they deserved, which will inevitably help the game to continue to prosper and win fans while other leagues bicker amongst themselves.
A Year of Stunning Loss
If I could help you forget,
Would you take my regrets?
'Cause I remember, everything.
- Five Finger Death Punch, "Remember Everything"
It goes without saying that 2011 was also a year of great loss in the world of sports. With the likes of Al Davis, Joe Frazier, Dan Wheldon, and the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv Russian hockey team, to name a few, leaving us, 2011 quickly turned to a year of mourning and remembrance. Everybody dies, but when it happens in droves like it did in 2011, it drives home just how precious each and every moment truly is.
Good Year For The Gab
As tough of a year as it was in the world of sports, 2011 was a great year for YouGabSports. We continue to grow with more members who love to contribute and more readers as each day goes by. It says a lot that a start-up sports blog, with no income coming in, can continue to thrive on the backbone of its members.
Thank you to you, the readers and writers who are the lifeblood of YouGabSports, for a brilliant 2011, and here's to hoping that 2012 is better, all around.