The Associated Press recently released the top 10 sports stories of 2012, based on 157 ballots submitted from U.S. news organizations. The results were depressing, indicating that we might have just endured the worst calendar year for sports in, at least, a generation. Consider…
1. PENN STATE: A lunatic pervert is finally brought to justice for unspeakable acts, like raping kids in showers on PSU campus. Lionized coach Joe Paterno -- suffering the shame guilty association -- dies in the aftermath. Had it not been for the recent Newtown tragedy, this would have been a contender for the most tragic domestic story of the year. It remains – and let’s hope will remain – the seediest sports scandal in college sports history.
2. LANCE ARMSTRONG: One of the great modern success stories, an athlete that beat cancer and became synonymous with – among other saintly qualities – integrity, is revealed to be a liar, cheat and bully. A fallen hero in the truest sense.
3. NFL BOUNTIES: A Super Bowl contender (the New Orleans Saints) crumbles under a scandal that charged them with running a reward system for injuring opponents. In the aftermath, the NFL and its formerly well-regarded Commissioner (at least in terms of steady stewardship) get egged in the face with repeals and reversals. A real fiasco.
4. FOOTBALL CONCUSSIONS: Junior Seau – one of the ten greatest linebackers of all time – committed suicide in May. He suffered from depression, which could have been exacerbated by head injuries incurred during his playing days. This brought even more attention to football’s growing problem.
5. LONDON OLYMPICS: The Games were awesome. But we still endured Twitter-idiots ridiculing Gabby Douglas’ hair and culture police bothering Serena Williams about c-walking at Wimbeldon.
6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: You know what this makes us think about? NCAA member schools’ poor records with graduating their black “student-athletes” and the very real fact that this will make a lot of people rich, except the overwhelming majority of athletes on the field. Take your playoffs and kick rocks.
7. REPLACEMENT OFFICIALS: Yeesh. What a sham. Remember this? Of course you do.
8. SUPER GIANTS: Solid story, all around.
9. PAT SUMMITT RETIRES : Sadly, one of the greatest coaches of any sport and/or era – and a champion of women’s athletics – had to retire due to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
10. PEYTON MANNING'S RESURGENCE: Maybe the best sports story of 2012.
This doesn’t even include the Jovan Belcher or Jerry Brown tragedies. We bid 2012 a swift good riddance.