By Dave Ferguson of BEYONDtheCheers Special for USDR
2013 carried many a sports buff on a roller coaster ride. Within the first month of last year, Lance Armstrong openly admitted to the world on television his history of doping in order to achieve his cycling wins. Unfortunately for him, bridges were burned and friendships compromised throughout fall from athletic fame.
The Super Bowl blackout, which delayed the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers for 34 minutes at the start of the third quarter was a most memorable 2013 moment spent in the dark.
Before the blackout, Baltimore had taken a 28-6 lead after Jacoby Jones ran a kickoff at a record 108 yards for a touchdown. When the lights came back on, the lopsided game became even more electric. What caused the blackout in 2013? Who knows for sure, but it did turn a boring super bowl into one that will be remembered for the ages.
Major League Baseball’s 2013 doping scandal certainly tainted the sport, with a number of high profile players caught in the net. Alex Rodriguez, the only one who fought his suspension, sought legal intervention and will miss the entire 2014 season as the media primes for new headlines.
Despite the PED scandal, Major League Baseball had another moment to remember as the boys of summer ended the season. David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox blasted a game-tying grand slam into the bullpen at Fenway Park. During the final inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, Boston was in danger of falling behind 2-0, at home, to Detroit. Instead, the Red Sox won the game and the series, followed by the World Series, in which Ortiz hit a ridiculous .688 and slugged two home runs.
In 2013 when Diana Nyad tried three times to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Miami without a protective shark cage she was over 60 years old. Rough seas, jellyfish stings and asthma attacks hampered her first three attempts until her success in September 2013 when she completed the swim from Havana to Key West; an inspiration to all.
Concussion symptoms continued to plague the NFL last year despite the $765 settlement with over 7500 retired players. This saga is expected to continue well into 2014 for those unhappy with the cash settlement, or lack thereof.
There was certainly ample sport news, record setting scores and many memorable moments in 2013; some tragic and sad, such as the bombing at the Boston Marathon that stunned the entire world.
Shockwaves hit the sport world when Paralympic athlete and Olympian, Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend. And perhaps less shocking, but nevertheless necessary, the NCAA realized this past year that they needed to update their rulebook. Considered an earth shaking sports moment in NCAA history, tradition loses hold.
However, there was a series of events in 2013, by one unlikely individual, that demonstrated to the world what sport is all about; setting, achieving and exceeding goals; overcoming hurdles and just plain having fun.
Mike Brannigan ran cross country for Northport High School in New York. In November 2013 he took second place at the NY State qualifying meet to move on to the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). Two weeks later, Brannigan won NXN with his winning time of 15:29 for 5,000m, just two seconds off the record. He then led his team to a second-place finish, earning them an invite to the NXN finals.
What’s different about Brannigan, is that at 18 months old, he was diagnosed with autism. Fearing that their son Mike would end up in a group home, his family enrolled him at the Developmental Disabilities Institute in a special education program that he followed in regular high school, where he achieved a 3.3 GPA and passed his NY Regents. Next is college and solid goals; to run against the best in the country; top three individual finish at NXN and getting his team to a top ten finish. “Keep an eye on me,” he warns. “This is my year!”
As 2013 came to a close the controversy continued surrounding the safety of the Sochi Olympic Games, along with the legitimacy of doping tests prior to the opening ceremonies in the 2014 new year.
More athleticachievement and ongoing inspiration is what we have to look forward to in 2014. A positive person would take the lessons learned in the past year and apply them moving forwards.
Will we be rid of doping scandals in baseball or any other sport? Likely not, but should there perhaps be harsher fines, suspensions or even a lifetime ban for the athlete found using banned substances? Some feel that stricter penalties would make it much easier to induct “clean” athletes into halls of fame. Sport governing bodies must also commit to stamping out the use of banned substances.
Concussion awareness will continue to gain momentum in 2014. The educational component is still lagging behind awareness, but we see the world of concussions moving to the forefront, kicking and screaming with a myriad of impending lawsuits, and added fuel to motivate the media — hopefully to continue coverage of this important issue.
The Sochi Olympics will be in the forefront to start out this year with the XXII Olympic Games. Success is expected despite the dark cloud of terrorism and less than superb conditions reported in Russia.
2014 is the year to address policies and procedures with respect to violent and bullying behaviour of the players, coaches, fans and parents. We’ve seen small steps taken during in the past year that helped the anti-bullying movement to gain some traction.,/p>
There’s a fairy tale ending coming to a remarkable career in 2014 as Peyton Manning may retire after winning his final Super Bowl. He’s throwing in the towel as his neck problems continue to plague him.
Not without injuries or incidents; sport continues to inspire and entertain the masses. As we look back on 2013 we remember and perhaps re-live the stories and incidents that entertained or tarnished the world of sport and athletics. Taking a leap into year 2014 provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes made and embark positive changes as we move towards the future.