2015 Sport Addiction Year in Review

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Sports can often be brushed off as another distraction that means nothing in the bigger world, and honestly it doesn’t mean a whole lot.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a number of people who take it very seriously, including yours truly.

The sports world is not going to solve the biggest problems that the world faces and it is often just a game played by overpaid athletes.

That doesn’t mean that sports are completely pointless as they can surprisingly express the world that they live in.

They are an escape from the world for many and a much simpler world to get away too, whether your team wins or losses.

As much as they are an escape from the world they can also take on the scope of the world beyond the lines on the field or the boards on the ice.

2015 is a perfect expression of just that as the year in sports had some big highs and some big lows.

Just like the year as a whole it had a little bit of everything in the sports world with everything on the spectrum of emotions.

There were stories that inspired showing the power that sport can have on someone’s life.

Stories that showed perseverance through adversity in a way showing what can be accomplished in sports and beyond if the determination and will is there.

The year saw stories of great accomplishments that showed that no record or streak is truly unbreakable.

It showed that there are always new heights to accomplish and that no matter how long something might not have been done there is always someone ready to break that streak.

There were stories about individual accomplishments where athletes went on runs throughout whatever league they were in throughout the year.

They were stories that everyone watches sports for as they got to see an athlete at the best of their abilities.

There were teams that did the same thing putting everything together at the right time and finding a way to a championship.year-in-review-sidebar.fw

Stories of heartbreak and happiness were seen throughout the year with the emotion depending on what side you were on.

There were no more important stories than those that reflected the not so great side of the sports world.

Scandals will always be the main focus as everyone loves to watch a story unfold with mystery behind it.

They rarely expose the great side of sports as they instead turn the focus to the dark side of things where people attempt to get away with anything they can.

Whether it was cheating in a game or cheating an organization out of millions of dollars there was plenty of scandal in 2015.

It made some of the most headlines and wasn’t the best reflection of anyone involved but it did show that sports isn’t infallible.

It goes back to the sports world reflecting the world around it as there is far from perfect outcomes for everything.

Sports can be an escape from all of that but more often than not there are going to be people willing to push things too far to get ahead.

They will look to cheat to get a win or just lie to get more for themselves and those around them rather than do things honestly.

There was bad and good in 2015 and although much of the scandals took focus for most of the year there was plenty more to talk about.

Sports in 2015 were great and terrible and a lot of in between but there was no shortage of stories to talk about.

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In 2014 one of the best stories in the MLB was the World Series fight between two teams that might not have even made the postseason a few years ago. Both the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals had snuck into the playoffs with the wild card and had a long road ahead of them. They both took the wild card game and went on with only the Giants losing a game throughout the entire postseason. The World Series itself was a great one but the Giants took home their third title in five years asserting their dominance in the league. The Royals were left without a title once again after so much promise seemed to be wasted as they still couldn’t take home their first title since 1985. It was widely believed that the Royals had caught magic in 2014 and that they were not going to see the same success that they did in the 2015 season. They put that though to bed almost immediately as 2015 was the season of the Royals from the start to the finish. For a team that had one of the longest postseason drought on record before 2014 the next season was a surprise for everyone outside of the locker room. They took the first month and rose to the top of the division and from that point on they never looked back. They never lost the lead in the division and were one of the best teams in the MLB throughout the year. They took that success into the postseason where they battle through every series to get back to the World Series. This time they finished the job beating the New York Mets in five games to complete a dominant season in the league. For the fans this was a big win as they took home their first title since 1985 and completed one of the best multi-year turnaround in the history of the MLB. For Royals fans it was great as the turnout for games has increased to becoming one of the best fan bases in the league. They are constantly there to support their Royals and have now become one of the hotbeds of baseball with a crazy fan base and a great team with a bright future ahead of them.

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Every generation has their own great athlete in every sport that enters the debate of being the best player every year and maybe of all time. There are always going to be these athletes in every sport but in 2015 one NBA player took over the headlines throughout the sports world. Steph Curry was the son of Dell Curry, a great player in his own right, and made his first waves in the NCAA tournament. While with Davidson College he led the Wildcats to the tournament in 2008 bringing the team to the Elite Eight and being named the best player in the region despite a loss in the Elite Eight. From that moment on he became a player to watch but he was never given the hype that a LeBron James or Andrew Wiggins received. He was drafted in the 2009 draft by the Golden State Warriors, a basement dwelling team, and the fortunes of the club were changed forever. It took a few years of good, albeit not great, play and some injuries but in 2015 he truly broke out to show what he could do. He began breaking records for shooting and won the MVP Award while guiding the Warriors to the NBA Playoffs. He continued to put up big numbers and led the Warriors to their first NBA Championship solidifying his spot as one of the best players in the game. Despite all of the success is was another member of the Curry family that became the popular one in 2015. Curry’s three-year old daughter, Riley, took the spotlight from her dad throughout the end of the NBA season. Sitting in on press conferences she gained a following and throughout the playoffs and the off-season she was featured on social media with everyone falling in love with the little girl. The entire Curry family took over the conversation in sports as Steph seemed to be the hero that so many were waiting for, a family man who is talented on the court and a great family man off of the court. His success has only continued to close out the year as a new season began with the Warriors and Curry winning 28-games straight, the best start in the history of the NBA. A new hero emerged in the NBA and standing alongside him is his daughter as both will continue to make headlines in 2016 and beyond.

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It was one of the biggest questions when the 2014 NCAA football season began as a new system had come into college football. It was the first year that the national champion would be decided after a playoff with a four team tournament set to begin on January 1st, 2015. That system caused plenty of debate throughout the season but in the end there were four teams set to face-off for a chance to become the national champion. There were the usual suspects in Alabama and defending champion Florida State but the new system brought two more to the table. Oregon finally got their shot to get a national championship and Ohio State snuck into the top four after winning the Big Ten Championship. Nobody knew what to expect in the new year when the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl took on semi-final responsibilities. What nobody really expected was just how well the playoff was going to work in order to bring the best teams to the championships game. The criticism of the BCS system was that only two teams were given the chance and that often they may not be the best teams in the country. With only two teams determined by a computer facing off to determine the best teams in the country there was no guarantee that the best team really got a chance. The playoff was a chance to give more teams a shot at the championship and in the first year it paid off in the best way possible. Ohio State would have not been given the chance to play for the national championship in January 2014. Yet when the new year rolled around they were in the hunt and they made good on that chance to get a title. They beat the #1 ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to shock the world in the second playoff game. They then went on to beat the #2 ranked Oregon Ducks in the National Championship to claim the title as the #4 team rose to the top. It was a shock but it was also a display of just what the playoff can do. For a team that would have never been given a shot a year ago the Buckeyes took home the title in a successful first year of the College Football Playoff.

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Golf has been looking for someone to take the reins from Tiger Woods since the former superstar’s cheating scandal. For a time it looked like Rory McIlroy was going to be that guy as he had plenty of success while Woods struggled to get back to the top. Then McIlroy began to struggle at major tournaments and in 2015 a new star emerged. That new star was one of the youngest players on tour as Jordan Spieth came into the new PGA Tour season at 21 and only three years on tour. The rise of Spieth may have been projected as he did win the Rookie of the Year in 2013. In 2014 he didn’t do a lot but this past year he took the golf world by storm coming close to put together one of the best major seasons ever. It all started when he seemingly came out of nowhere in the biggest major of them all. The first round was itself legendary finishing one stroke ahead of the course record at a course that the best players of all time have played on every year. He continued his great weekend by breaking the 36-hole record and the 54-hole record. His final round wasn’t as good but it was still good enough to the Masters and become the first wire-to-wire winner since 1974. It made him the #2 golfer on tour and had plenty wondering if he could continue throughout the majors season. His next chance was at the U.S. Open and although he didn’t have the same legendary performance as he did in the Masters he still rose to the top. He took home the title and became the first golfer to win the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year since Woods did it in 2002. Heading into The Open Spieth was the favourite to win and get within one tournament of the Grand Slam. That hope came to an end at The Open though when he finished in fourth place only a stroke away from making it a four-way playoff. He finished second in the last major of the year but it didn’t stop him from being ranked #1 after the biggest tournaments of the Tour. He came from being a relative unknown to becoming the next star of the PGA Tour as everyone awaits his next shot at the majors.

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The Super Bowl will always make headlines every year as the biggest single day sporting event in North America. This year it made headlines for a slightly different reason though as the game was one of the best in recent memory and all ended on a controversial decision. With the New England Patriots ahead and time winding down the Seattle Seahawks began marching down the field. Some great passes by Russell Wilson had them looking at short yardage to score the go-ahead touchdown and take their second straight Super Bowl. It was good news as the Seahawks had one of the toughest backs in the league in Marshawn Lynch and had first down with about a yard to get into the end zone. Everyone was expecting them to hand the ball off four times to Lynch and that there was no way the Patriots were going to stop him every time. When the ball snapped it was Wilson with the ball in his hands and Lynch went to block with everyone wondering why they were going to throw. Then the unthinkable happened as Wilson threw the ball to the edge of the end zone where Malcolm Butler jumped the route and took the ball away. The result was a turnover and the Patriots had the ball looking to run the clock out in the shadow of their goal posts. An offside gave the Patriots some room though and Tom Brady kneeled out the game to take another championship. After the game the debate began as there were few fans or analysts that agreed with the decision to throw the ball. When asked head coach Pete Carroll simply stated that he thought they had a better shot if they threw the ball. Still it created questions around Lynch and his role on the team which continues today as Lynch has been out with an injury but the Seahawks have said that he needs to fit their offence and that they won’t adjust to him when he returns. The relationship was never great but it is more strained now thanks to the decision in the Super Bowl that very well may have been the difference for the Seahawks taking two in a row.

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Boxing is a sport that has had its heyday and has now fallen back to the fringe of the sports world. It was at one point one of the biggest sports in the world with massive names like Muhammed Ali, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, “Sugar” Ray Robinson, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and so many more. They were the stars of the day and fights were massive events that everyone had to be a part of if you wanted to be in the know. Since Tyson though the boxing world has taken a massive step backwards with fighters like Tyson making a bit too much noise outside of the ring and corruption running wild. The sport has been looking for a fight to save them since Tyson lost his title but every time their fight to save boxing never pans out. As much as they try to build fights there was never one that got non-boxing fans to watch the fight. That was until this year when the fight that boxing fans and non-boxing fans had been waiting for finally came to be. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao had been fighting a war of words for years with everyone divided on who was the best fighter in the world. When the fight originally both were champions that hadn’t lost in years while being ranked among the best pound for pound fighters in the world. They could never get the fight together thanks to negotiation break downs. It finally came together for 2015 and although Pacquiao was not the fighter he used to be it became one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Everyone wanted to watch the fight with Mayweather playing a convincing heel as a loud brash athlete who had been in jail for domestic abuse. The fight was a glimpse into the history of the sport with bars selling tickets to watch the fight and people having parties to see the fight. Mayweather won the fight in a typical Mayweather fight but it was not as exciting as some expected and the last hope of saving boxing seemed to fade away. Still for a good part of the year boxing was front and centre again and was again the talk of the water cooler even if it was a brief time.

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On the field, the ice, and the floor sports are pretty simple, there are rules and if you cross those rules you will be punished accordingly. Outside of the field of play is the business of sport that includes billions of dollars circulating from major companies for marketing and TV rights to paying multi-millionaire players. With so much money circulating and so much money on the line in major decisions it is a bit of a given that there will be corruption. Like corruption in any industry it is almost understood but it is rarely revealed as it is hard to find and even harder to get through multiple levels of corruption that can include those investigating the corruption themselves. One of the places that might best express this is in one of the largest sports organizations in the world in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA as it is better known. It has always been considered a corrupt organization but nobody ever found anything to put them away or nobody ever really tried. That was until this year when the FBI launched an investigation into the organization. The investigation was likely a result of the 2018 and 2022 bids that went to countries and plans that were questionable at best. After the investigation it was revealed that there were potential pay-offs for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. What was bigger was the revelation that FIFA had been accepting bribes for media and marketing rights. It was proof of what so many people believed was happening for years and put soccer’s governing body in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The drama of FIFA President Sepp Blatter only made things worse as he refused to resign claiming that he had no involvement in any of the illegal activity. When it was revealed that he did know he resigned only to say that he never resigned and then later to be banned for eight years from soccer after due to his involvement in the scandal. Most North Americans do not pay attention to soccer on a regular basis but this year it was something that everyone watched and throughout the world was one of the biggest stories in sports.

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As boxing continues to fall into the fringes Mixed Martial Arts only grew bigger this year with the UFC leading the way. There was one very big reason for that growth and that reason was the continued growth of Ronda Rousey. There has never been a star in the UFC like Rousey as she is a beautiful woman who can do all of the interviews and magazine covers while also being one of the most dominant athletes in sports. The year for Rousey started well when she beat Cat Zingano in fourteen seconds to retain her title. That fight was the beginning of a whirlwind year as she immediately began being recognized as one of the most dominant athletes in all of sports. After all in three fights, including against Zingano, she had fought less than two minutes total. She was dominant and people took notice with a Sports Illustrated cover, talk show appearances, and more movie role opportunities for the budding superstar. She kept the dominance going in her next fight when she beat Bethe Corriea in only 34 seconds and once again the media focused more and more on this beautiful and extremely tough woman. She was bringing the UFC into the limelight and became the fighter that even non-fight fans wanted to see. The build-up for her title defence against Holly Holm reached new heights and all of the promotion landed on the shoulders of Rousey with every week meaning a new appearance on another show. With all eyes on Rousey the UFC held one of its biggest pay-per-views ever in the biggest arena to ever host a UFC fight. Then the woman nobody was talking about, aside from maybe Rousey, shocked the world in beating up the champion. In the second round Holm landed a head kick to knock out Rousey handing her the first loss of her MMA career. It was a shocker and had everyone in the sports world talking including people who never watch the UFC or MMA. It was a sign that the UFC is entering the main stream but also a concern that they might have lost their ticket to that main stream. Rousey gets a rematch next year when the UFC hosts UFC 200 in what is sure to be the biggest fight card in the promotions history.

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Some things in sports seem to be simply impossible and the pursuit of these things are what sports fans and athletes live for. The pursuit of records is always great especially when they have been standing but in a few sports there is a bigger prize. In tennis and golf that bigger prize is the Grand Slam and it is rewarded for the athlete who can win all four major tournaments in a single year. Those two major accomplishments are not an easy task for any athlete but they all owe their creation to one of the oldest sports in North America. Thoroughbred racing was around in North American since before the 20th century and continues to this day. Through the over 100 years history three races emerged as the premier events in the sport. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes date back to before the 1880s and together they make up the Triple Crown of racing. That Triple Crown only came about in 1919 when a horse named Sir Barton won all three races and officials believed they needed to reward the accomplishment. That horse was the first of a select group of horses to win all three races as the trophy took multiple moments of resurgence. In the 1930s there were three Triple Crown winners while the 1940s there were four winners. The trophy wasn’t handed out again until 1973 but the 70s had another two winners for another small resurgence. That is when the legend began to grow though as year after year went by and no horse was able to take home the trophy. There were plenty of contenders but every time they got to the Belmont Stakes it wasn’t to be and the trophy went away for another year. That was until this year when American Pharoah went ahead from the gate at the Belmont Stakes and led the entire time. He had already taken the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes and now he had added the Belmont Stakes to break the drought. It had been 37 years since a horse won the Triple Crown and it was always a major debate about who could do it especially after the Kentucky Derby when the next contender emerged. This time American Pharoah was the won as the horse took home one of the toughest trophies to get in one of the oldest sports in North America.deflategate.fw.png

 

 

 

Horse Racing may be one of the oldest sports in North America but there is no sport bigger in the region than NFL football. It is a massive sport that makes billions of dollars every year and only seems to be getting bigger despite the problems it faces and there are some major problems. Whether it be the concussion issue that seems to be only getting worse with Concussions and off-field issues like domestic violence being talked about more than the games. It has been a tough few years for Roger Goodell and the league but this year it took another step during Deflategate. That was the investigation into the use of under inflated balls in the AFC Championship game by the eventual champion new England Patriots. It was far from the first time that the Patriots had been accused of bending the rules or outright breaking them and the NFL wanted to put an end to it with this investigation. That investigation revealed that many people were involved including starting quarterback Tom Brady. When they asked Brady to help them in the investigation he refused even destroying his phone that may or may not have had messages telling the equipment managers to deflate the game balls. The lack of cooperation was enough for Goodell to suspend Brady for four games to start the regular season but Brady fought back. He went to court against the league in a fight that has been brewing for years, the ability and fairness of Roger Goodell being the head disciplinarian in the NFL. Brady won the case having his suspension thrown out after a judge ruled that the NFL had not taken the correct steps in determining his suspension. The ruling did not state whether or not Brady was guilty of cheating but rather that the NFL lacked the evidence at the time to justify the suspension. It was the talk of the off-season as one of the faces of the league was going up against the league itself. There have been plenty of complaints recently about suspensions and how they are determined and this was just the latest in a fight that may see Goodell step away from discipline. Meanwhile despite his lack of suspension Brady and the Patriots were involved in yet another cheating scandal and have gained a reputation outside of football, the reputation was already there inside of football, that they are willing to do anything including cheating to win games.

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