While this year’s political landscape may be one that many Americans want to forget, the sports scene of 2016 has been one to remember. From Peyton Manning going out on top, an NCAA Title decided by a buzzer-beater, Cleveland’s long-awaited championship and an end to the Cubs’ 108-year World Series drought, this year has certainly stamped its place in sports history.
In early February, NFL fans were treated to a Super Bowl match-up between the league’s most explosive offense, led by Cam Newton, and its best defense, led by eventual MVP Vonn Miller. The saying “defense wins championships” rang true when Denver held Carolina to just 10 points and won its third title. The Broncos’ win marked a fitting going-away party for quarterback Peyton Manning, whose retirement rumors had become the focus in the media leading up to the big game. The 39-year-old legend, who had been out a big chunk of the season due to injury, nabbed another Super Bowl ring exactly one month before officially announcing the end of his illustrious career.
The University of Villanova continued the theme of incredible championship games in April when forward Kris Jenkins hit a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to beat the University of North Carolina 77-74 in the NCAA Tournament final. Basketball fans were enthralled, Twitter exploded, commentator Bill Raftery added “double order, sauteed!” to his signature “ONIONS!” call and the sports world was 2 for 2.
When the NBA Finals came around, a Golden State repeat over the Cleveland Cavaliers seemed inevitable. Steph Curry’s Warriors had broken the NBA record by going 73-9 during the regular season and had just survived a 7-game series with the Thunder. But, down 3-1 in the series, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving took it upon themselves to spoil the Warriors’ championship bid, thoroughly entertaining sports fans on the way. Those of us who watched Game 7 from start to finish will not be forgetting it anytime soon. At last, the city of Cleveland’s curse had ended after a 42-year championship drought.
Speaking of Cleveland, the Indians surprised many by riding their explosive lineup and solid pitching into this year’s World Series. As I’m sure you all know, their opponent was the Chicago Cubs. In typical 2016 fashion, the series went to seven games after Cleveland blew a 3-1 series lead. All eyes were on the winner-take-all Game 7 just a couple of weeks ago as both teams looked to snap major World Series droughts. There were blown leads, errors, wild pitches, extra innings, a rain delay, and a victory for my least favorite team; yet somehow, it was one of the best baseball games I’ve ever seen.
Now, a year that may go down in history for many reasons seems to be dwindling to its end. The world of sports has been a bright spot in 2016, and with the college football season nearing its climax, who knows what kind of magic we’re in store for when the CFP semifinals take place on New Year’s Eve. In the meantime, to those of you who missed out on this year’s historic sports moments: don’t make the same mistake next year. Now seems as good a time as any to take a break from the politics and enjoy a ballgame.