Have you been reading the list of top sports moments in 2015? Do you like what the major media players like the Associated Press, PTI and Sports Illustrated have to say about the big stories of the year? Simply put, does anyone that isn’t from the state of Kentucky really watch horse racing?
With finals finished and the Christmas break upon us, here is my short list of the breakout events of 2015:
- 1. Michigan State versus Michigan: Michigan State made it to the College Playoff. They would never had gotten there absent a win against Michigan and what was one of the major (and poorly covered) plays of the year. Much blame has been heaped on punter Blake O’Neill and, to a lesser extent, the long snapper. However, my view is that the special teams coach John Baxter should shoulder the burden of this tragic loss. Michigan State sent all 11 players to block the key 4th quarter punt. Michigan tried to cover with just 8. 11 versus 8? We can all do the math. It will be interesting to see if Jay Harbaugh moves into the special teams coordinator role next year.
- 2. A Royal Affair: The Royals played with a chip on their collective shoulder throughout 2015 following a tough 7-game series loss against the San Francisco Giants last year. These boys of summer played inspired baseball throughout the season capped off with an incredible win against the upstart New York Mets. The path to the crown was a difficult one with big wins over the Astros (ALDS) and the Blue Jays (ALCS). They won the heart of their hometown, exemplified by the 400,000 people that flooded downtown Kansas City for the Victory Parade. It was a 2015 moment that was as good as Kansas City BBQ.
- 3. Women’s World Cup: There simply has not been enough coverage given to the first World Cup win by the U.S. women in 16 years. The mainstream media outlets simply do not cover a game that both boys and girls love to play. Where is the soccer coverage on ESPN? Where are the stories in SI? The World Cup triumph was a big story. It featured marquee players like the great Alex Morgan. It should have been high on the list of every end-of-year review.
- 4. Federer versus Djokovic: Like soccer, tennis is a sport that young people love to play and that the mainstream media doesn’t cover nearly enough. At the heart of the 2015 storyline was the resurgence of the rivalry between Federer and Djokovic. They played in two of the four majors (Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) along with the ATP Finals in London. Federer has the creativity of an artist. He is the Michael Jordan of tennis. Djokovic, for his part, is a fearless Serbian fighter with a brilliant all-court game. He will make you earn every single point. This rivalry defined the narrative at the Majors (along with Serena and her inspired play). It will continue into 2016, much to the delight of every kid that plays and loves tennis.
- 5. Malcolm Butler and the Super Bowl: Malcolm Butler not only stole the Super Bowl from the Seattle Seahawks with his memorable interception, he emerged this fall as a Pro Bowl player and someone that critics have called “one of the top defenders in the NFL.” I share that view and think that this moment, on one of the largest television stages in sports, was one of the biggest of 2015.
It is hard to limit yourself to just five picks. There were a multitude of other ideas that were percolating in my head. In no particular order, here are a couple of others that merit consideration: Charles Woodson and his incredible final season in the NFL; the hype and then disappointing reality of Floyd “Money” Mayweather and his title fight against Manny Pacquiao; and of course Donald Trump. Some readers will recall my earlier piece on the U.S. Football League. The Donald was right in the middle of it. You never want to cross The Donald and I think we all know that he wants to be on every list.
What do you think? You aren’t in school. You have plenty of time during the Christmas break to post some of your best thinking on this important topic. Let’s hear your thoughts about the big stories of the year. Merry Christmas.