Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger Woods and the Biggest Sports Stories of the Naughty Aughts

In his Sports Guy column last week (here), Bill Simmons argued that the Tiger Woods car crash and infidelity story is the biggest sports story of the decade.

I don't agree -- it's too depressing, for one, but also I want my biggest sports stories to have at least some element of sport involved. I've been mulling it over, and here are my finalists for the biggest sports story of the decade:
  • The NFL's response to concussions and brain injuries - this story didn't happen until the last year of the decade, but I predict the change in attitudes this year will have a lasting impact on the way football is played

  • The baseball steroids scandal - particularly once Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez were named; this story will dominate the way baseball of this era will be remembered

  • The Patriots run of excellence, with a focus on Brady, Belichick and Adam Vinatieri - I certainly do not like the teams or the main characters involved, but the NFL is the hardest of the leagues in which to stay consistently good, and they pulled it off

  • College football's unwillingness to abandon the BCS - almost every year of the decade, November and December sports talk radio have been dominated by discussions of the ridiculousness of not having a playoff

  • Tiger Woods's dominance of golf and Roger Federer's dominance of tennis - ok, he gets mentioned here, but it's for his and Federer taking all comers in their respective games, not for the scandal

  • Lance Armstrong and the doping allegations against him - this is the great unsolved sports mystery of the '00s

  • The Beijing Olympics - China's rise to power was one of the three or four biggest political/economic stories of the decade, and their Olympics were the sports-related illustration of that rise

  • George Mason's run to the Final Four - for me, this was the most magical of the underdog moments of the decade

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