Even though I spend a lot of time reading comics or doing general nerdy things, my love of sports is just as strong as ever. 2015 was one of the more eventful years we’ve had in sports in recent memory, and here I’m going to attempt to highlight some of the best and worst aspects of the general sports world.
Disclaimer: Sports is a massive topic, I will either forget things or have to leave stories out for the sake of length; forgive me. Also, I already wrote a longform piece on my feelings about Grantland, so that will also not be mentioned here.
When we look back on 2015 in sports, the overriding story (let’s pretend Deflategate wont be it, I’ll get to that later) will definitely be the rise of the Golden State Warriors and the changing of the playing landscape in the NBA. We knew they were a strong team statistically, and we knew Steph Curry was building up to be the best 3-point shooter of all time, but we were not prepared for the start of the current season that they are putting on. It’s easy to see that they had the best start in NBA history, going 24-0 and looking seemingly unstoppable; but when you dig deeper into the stats, they are on pace to be one of, if not, the best teams of all time. And the reason for this is they irreplicable style they play. Everyone on their team can shoot the ball (center Andrew Bogut isn’t the best, but when they need a big, he’s always a good fit), and when they play small ball, where their center is a guy who would normally play power forward in Draymond Green, they are nearly unstoppable offensively. You don’t get that style without players like Draymond Green, who can guard any position, and Steph Curry, who can apparently shoot from anywhere on the court. Watching this team play, it’s obvious you’re watching something special, and with Curry having a season rivaling Michael Jordan, this is an amazing time to watch basketball.
Where basketball is giving us history and fun players you just want to love, the NFL is doing a hell of a job of being an embarrassment to sports. Let’s start with Deflategate. We all know the story by now: it’s alleged that Tom Brady, New England Patriots Quarterback, asked to have the balls he was using deflated below regulation levels to have a better grip. At first, any normal person would say, well that’s a stupid thing to be wasting our time with, but the NFL investigated this for MONTHS. Full disclosure, I live in Boston and do not like the Patriots, but this story might be the stupidest of any in sports history. The effect the so negligible, and the balls pressure changes in gameplay; it’s just a non issue. Meanwhile, commissioner Roger Goodell attempted to suspend Brady for 4 games, and a judge, I’m sure being dumbfounded, overturned that. It’s come out in time that this was probably Goodell attempting to make up for his lack of punishment for Spygate, which makes sense, but doesn’t justify.
If that wasn’t enough to make you not want to watch the NFL, the unrepentant Greg Hardy is still employed by the Dallas Cowboys after throwing his girlfriend on A BED OF ASSAULT RIFLES, because he’s apparently a Pulp villain from the 1930s and doesn’t appear to have human emotions. Now, our good buddy Roger attempted to suspend him for 10 games, which proves that he had a rare moment of clarity, but that suspension was lowered to 4 games by an arbitrator. That aside, the fact that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are willing to pay this guy is absolutely repugnant. The simple fact that he’s not in jail is infuriating enough, but him being paid millions, and more or less getting away with everything and not regretting a second is disgusting. I’m a lifelong football fan, and I really struggle watching any games this year. Hell, FIFA is corrupt in the world of soccer, but the players you look up to aren’t the cause; in football, it seems that no one is a role model (thankfully Cam Newton is doing his part of being awesome).
To keep myself from rambling further, I’m going to do some quick hits for other major sports moments this year, here goes:
- FIFA, and those running the soccer world, are finally getting their comeuppance. With the indictments leading all the way to the top with Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini being charged with corruption, we might finally get some transparency. To be honest, there’s nothing to say that the next regime will be any better, but this is still a huge step.
- The US Women’s Soccer team won the world cup in convincing fashion, giving us a soccer team to be proud of. In that, Abby Wambach and company are on a mission to not only recognize the gender discrepancies in sports, but bring about discussion on how to change it.
- On the other side, the US Men’s National Team did a thorough job of stinking up the Gold Cup. Yes, there is life after the World Cup. In matches that they were expected to dominate, somehow the USMNT managed to lose to Jamaica, via bone headed mistakes in defense and a weak attacking front. To add insult to injury, they also managed to lose the 3rd place game to Panama via penalty shoot out. It was a rough year for the men’s team with one of the few highlights being a 2-1 win over Germany in a June friendly.
- Serena Williams nearly made history by winning the grand slam, but fell in the US Open. Regardless, this past year may have just cemented her legacy as the greatest woman tennis player of all time and one of the best players ever.
- The NHL might be the most exciting league in the world at the moment. Any team can beat another, every game is fast paced, and the introduction of the 3v3 overtime promises that no one will leave disappointed. Rookie Connor McDavid might be the best prospect since Sidney Crosby, and other rookies in Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin are sure fire future all-stars. In addition, the Patrick Kane sexual assault case, and the circus it became, was handled perfectly by the league, unlike the NFL. While that case raised eyebrows when it was discovered evidence was planted by the victim’s mother, Kane didn’t face charges, and appears to be clean. Even after that, Kane went on a massive point streak, breaking the Blackhawk record, and is one his way to being the best player in the league.
- Baseball continues on, and it’s still boring for me. For fans, the landscape appears to be changing, as the Mets and Cubs are emerging as forces in the league.Even still with the Mets as hot as they were, couldn’t keep the Kansas City Royals from winning their first World Series in 30 years.
- American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown in Horse Racing, a historic act we may not see in our lifetime again.
- Not only did we see the ascendance of Ronda Rousey in MMA, but we witnessed a major upset when Holly Holm really took Ronda out convincingly. She’s remained fairly quiet since, and the rematch is bound to be one of the biggest bouts in UFC history. Holm, for the time being, is an incredible champ, and if she performs like she did against Rousey every fight, UFC has an incredible competitor (hopefully Dana White and Joe Rogan can not be sexist long enough to not screw it up)
I’m sure there’s something I missed, but that’s a pretty good look at the sports world in 2015. Going forward, there’s a lot to grab onto, especially with the Olympics on the horizon. Even if you aren’t the biggest sports fan, it’s a great time to watch.