Dubsism

What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions

Dubsism’s 15 Most Important Sports Stories of 2017

Being that once again we are at the end of what has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, why not take a look back at the biggest sports stories of such a year? After all, I’m pretty sure nobody else does these sort of retrospectives…well, at least not quite like Dubsism does.

15) The Hypocritical Sloppiness of American Sports Journalism

Let’s be honest. If you want the truth in this country anymore, you can’t get it from the “lame-stream” sports media.  The bell-cow for this demise is the World Wide Bottom-Feeder ESPN.  We all know SportsCenter was at one time was the “gold standard”  for sports journalism, now it’s hardly worth a bag of recyclable cans.  We also know this death-spiral started when ESPN made a decision to flavor everything with fluff and politics.  People want SportsCenter to be about scores and highlights; not surfing dogs, “Courage” awards for drag queens who don’t have the balls to cut off their balls, and hypocritical morons who use their own race as a shield while hurling some of the most vile racial invective themselves.

The numbers don’t lie.  The American sports fan is turning off to the World Wide Bottom Feeder in massive numbers, and the day is coming sooner rather than later when what ESPN is doing will no longer be sustainable.

14) The Slow Suicide of the NFL

Despite what you may think, this isn’t about a bunch of self-indulgent, spot-light grabbing, kneeling jerk-offs.  They belong in the previous story, as nobody in this country would give a damn about them if sewers like ESPN weren’t advancing their false narrative.  Instead, this is about a league that can’t figure out what a catch is.  This is about a league where players are punished on unproven accusations while those convicted of felonies get pretty much the same treatment.  And, this is about a league which is finding more ways to cram more and more dead time into a broadcast product already bloated with it.

Once again, this is a case where the numbers don’t lie.  The NFL’s TV ratings are in free-fall, every Sunday Twitter explodes with pictures of half-empty stadiums, and Kommissar Goodell and his ilk are set to prove they can indeed kill the goose which lays the golden eggs.

13) Takuma Sato Becomes the First Japanese Driver To Win The Indianapolis 500

NASCAR has done a very good job of killing the popularity of Formula 1/IndyCar racing in America, but it’s still the standard for global motor sports.  Concomitantly, the Indy 500 is still a major event in that world.  In 2013, Sato made history when he became the first Japanese-born driver to win an IndyCar race when he took the checkered flag at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Four years later, he conquered the biggest race in the world when he crossed the strip of bricks first at Indianapolis.

So much for the stereotype that Asians can’t drive…

12) The Rise of the Ball Family

I’m not sure how one can look at LaVar Ball and not see Joe Jackson.  Both of them have mastered the art of cashing in on the talents of their children.  Be they named Jermaine, Janet, and Michael, or LaMelo, LiAngelo, and Lonzo, both Jackson and Ball built empires which for better or worse changed their respective worlds.  The difference is we don’t know how the Ball saga ends yet.

11) Sergio Garcia Finally Wins A Major

Golf fans love to hang the tag of “best golfer to have never won a major” on people.  It all stated with Phil Mickelson when he went through a decade of not being able to do something anybody else was doing at the time; beat Tiger Woods.

Right about that same time a young golfer named Sergio Garcia burst upon the scene.  There were plenty of guys for golf fans to hang that tag on, until one day they realized Garcia was now a 37-year-old with nine PGA Tour wins and five top-three finishes in majors.  They also noticed “that one big win” had eluded him more notably than any golfer in recent memory.  That all ended at Augusta in April when Garcia joined golf royalty by taking home his first green jacket.

10) The Dysfunction of Tennessee Volunteer Football

Everybody in Tennessee Volunteer nation agreed the university needed to fire head football coach Butch Jones.  There were literally no agreements at all after that.  Once the school announced it had reached an agreement in principle with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, an unprecedented social media backlash ensued. Eventually, Tennessee had to bail on Schiano, and what followed was the world’s weirdest version of “Who’s Got the Button?”  The names flew as fast as the rumors, and social media spread the wildfire across the sports world.

In the span of three days, coaches such as Jon Gruden, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy were all reported to be “done deals” heading to Knoxville.  None of those turned out to be true.  Such fumble-fuckery led to athletic director John Currie getting the gate, and former coach Phillip Fulmer taking the reins.  Eventually, Tennessee finally agreed to terms with Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to become the next Volunteer head coach.

But most importantly, the return of Phil Fulmer means I get to break out my long-retired file of Fulmer memes.

9) The World Cup Is Missing Some Familiar Faces

The lowest moment in the history of U.S. soccer transpired in October when the USMNT was disqualified from the 2018 World Cup thanks to a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago.  Meanwhile in Europe, Italy was suffering a similar indignity when they were shown the door by Sweden. This marks the first time since 1986 the U.S. did not qualify for the World Cup.  Sweden’s aggregate victory means the Italians will not be part of the world’s largest soccer tournament for the first time since 1958.

To be honest, the U.S. routinely qualifies because it is in a weak region.  Realistically, America’s only real competition comes from Mexico, and like the U.S., they historically aren’t very good.  But on the other hand, Italy is genuinely a giant in world football.  Just qualifying from Europe is a feat in and of itself. Not to mention, the Italians have made it to the World Cup Final six times and won four of them.

8 ) Team USA Wins The World Baseball Classic

For a game known as “America’s Pastime,” The U.S. hadn’t done a very good job of capturing baseball’s version of the World Cup.  After coming up short in the first three installments of the de facto world baseball championship, the United States finally took down a title.  The final game featured six no-hit shutout innings from tournament MVP Marcus Stroman over previously undefeated Puerto Rico.

7) The Year of the Football Comeback

Whether it’s what we call “football” or what the rest of the world calls “football,” they both had incredible big-game comebacks in 2017.

It all started with the College Football championship which saw the Clemson Tigers overcome a two-touchdown deficit against top-ranked Alabama to deliver the Tigers their first national title since 1981.

As far as the American professionals are concerned, you just had to know that if there were going to be a Super Bowl which went to overtime, it was going to involve Tom Fucking Brady. Halftime sees the New England Patriots trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3.  Like much of America at that point, I switch off and go to bed, only to wake up to the news I’d slept through a chunk of Super Bowl History.  The second half saw Tommy Boy engineer a comeback for the ages, tying the game by the end of regulation and winning 34-28 in the first Super Bowl ever to be decided in an extra frame.

But that pales in comparison to what Barcelona pulled off in the Champions League.  The reigning kings of La Liga had lost the first leg of a Round of 16 fixture against French champion Paris St. Germain by a score of 4-0.  Giving up four goals in the opener of a two-match series is essentially a world football death sentence.

As such, the second leg was to be a mere formality; this was supposed the end of era for to Barcelona, the sunset of their run of European dominance.  Except somebody forgot to tell them that.  The French collapse was complete and total; as if the Maginot Line were being re-enacted on a football pitch in Catalonia. In the 88th minute of the second match, Barcelona was ahead 3-1, which meant they were going to louse the round 5-3 on aggregate.  All Paris St-Germain had to do was run out the last two minutes and the stoppage time, and the Ligue 1 champs would advance to he quarter-finals.

Then, the French did what the French do…they folded faster than Superman on laundry day.  Barcelona notched three goals in the final seven minutes; Neymar netted a pair of goals to draw level, then Sergi Roberto came off the bench to score his first goal of the year to cap to give Barcelona the 6-5 aggregate win.

 

6) A Star Is Born In Edmonton

Honestly, this could be about the National Hockey League and how it is bursting at the seams with young emerging stars. The antithesis of the NFL, the NHL may very well be the most entertaining sports league to watch in America over the next decade strictly on the wealth of great players it has.  But the face of this youth movement in hockey is Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.  I’m decidedly not a fan of “this guy is the next _______” comparisons, but it is hard not to think of Wayne Gretzky when you watch McDavid.  Call it déjà vu if you will, but this kid is another monstrously-talented center clad in Oiler orange and blue who glides across the ice and seemingly scores at will.

There will never be another “Great One,” but McDavid is already doing great things early in his career.  Last season, he scored 100 points in his sophomore campaign, helping to end Edmonton’s decade-plus long playoff drought and making him the third-youngest winner of the Art Ross and Hart Trophies in NHL history; the other two being Sidney Crosby and the great Gretxky himself.

5) The U.S. Gymnastics Scandal

Art imitates life, life imitates art, and sports is a reflection of both.  With the air full of accusations in all quarters of sexual misconduct, sometimes when there is that much talk, some things are found to be not necessarily true. Sadly, shit like the Duke LaCrosse witch-hunt happened.

This isn’t one of those times. Larry Nassar got his due process and was found to be a scumbag of the first order, and if there were ever a “poster child” for waving the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause from the Constitution, this guy is it.  Nassar should be in a place where he gets beaten with a tube sock full of batteries on an hourly basis, and then after he gets raped to death by a Turkish biker gang, his corpse is fed to flesh-eating cockroaches.

Sadly in America, we can only put child-raping monsters behind bars for a very long time, and hopefully the 60 years Larry Nassar was sentenced to guarantees he dies behind bars.  The former physician for the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team was charged with sexually assaulting 140 women and ultimately was convicted.  Among those who stepped forward with claims against him included gold medalists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.

4) Mayweather vs. MacGregor

The fight really didn’t live up to the hype, but there really was no way it could.  This was easily the most hyped, sensationalized, and financially successful fight in recent memory, even if we were all watching with the same curiosity factor usually reserved for flaming wrecks on the freeway.

Let’s be honest; we had to watch.  You may not have been like me and actually ponied up the C-note to see it, but you were there nevertheless.  We all had no choice.  This fight, awkward and sideshow-ish as it was, remained the headline driven by a world media blitz and war of words between Floyd Mayweather and Conor MacGregor which nearly eclipsed the fight itself.

Let’s be even more honest; this really was never about the fight itself.  Instead, my $100 helped fuel $300 million payday for both fighters.

3) Another Year, Another NCAA Investigation

Every year, we get another example that the NCAA and the world it controls might be the most corrupt enterprise in sports this side of the International Olympic Committee.  This time, it’s basketball’s turn to come under a federal investigation regarding corruption in recruiting practices.

The tip-off came in September when the the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York presented the findings from an F.B.I. investigation that uncovered mass corruption, bribery and wire fraud involving some of the sport’s top programs.  At first, four assistant coaches were charged: Tony Bland of USC, Emanuel “Book” Richardson of Arizona, Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, and Chuck Person of Auburn.  The investigation continues, and there are certainly more charges to come.

But the question is…who the hell is surprised by this?  Corruption in college sports might be the worst kept secret in the history of worst kept secrets, so the question becomes when is somebody finally going to drain the swamp that is the NCAA?

2) Russia Banned From the 2018 Winter Olympics

As a fan of the Olympics, all I can say is God Bless the Russians.  I actually miss the days of the defunct Soviet Union.  Every great sports rivalry needs the “bad guy,” and despite the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, the Russians remain every bit the “boogey-man.”  There’s a group of people in America who are convinced that everything wrong under the sun is the fault of the Russians.  Again, some of that is noise, but some of it is real.

Another terribly-kept secret is the Russians cheat at sports.  Nobody was surprised when the International Olympic Committee announced it has banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics as  punishment for systemic, state-sponsored doping, including at the 2014 Winter Games.

But if you kick out the Russkies, what do we do for “bad guys?” In a deft piece of legal gymnastics, the IOC found a way to ban Russia but not Russian athletes.  Any Russian athlete who passes drug tests and are approved by a panel will be able to compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).”  The Russian flag will not be shown, athletes will not compete in Russian uniforms, and the Russian anthem will not be played for any ceremonies, and no official from the Russian Ministry of Sport will be allowed at the 2018 Olympics.  But there will still be plenty of Russians to boo.

 

1) #HoustonStrong

In a year with so many negative stories, this exemplifies what makes America great.  Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the city of Houston, costing thousands their homes and causing billions of dollars in property damage.  The Houston sports community came to the aid of the city’s residents.  The Houston Astros’ #HoustonStrong campaign led to multi-million dollar donations from the owners of the Astros, Rockets, and Texans.

But it was J.J. Watt’s efforts which became the definition of promise in the face of calamity. Watt drove a fund-raising effort which started with a modest goal of $200,000, but it mushroomed into raising nearly $40 million to help the city’s time of need.

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