2022 was a year of memorable moments in the sports world, and plenty of events took place. The World Cup and Olympics, while on a national level each sport/entertainment entity had its fifteen minutes of fame.
Globally, one country won the hearts of everyone. Morocco became the first African nation to get to the semifinals of the World Cup. Their path included beating Belgium, Canada, Spain, and Portugal. While they lost to France for a chance in the finals, they finished fourth after falling 2-1 to Croatia. Morocco was tied for tenth in the tournament with five goals (olympics.com), but their relentless offense and aggressive defense got them one game shy of the World Cup final. They made a statement, and deserve all the recognition for their play.
From the World Cup to the Olympics, a few American athletes made history while others said their farewells. First up, Sydney McLaughlin beat her record on the hurdles by .46 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles. In addition to that record, at 22 she is the second-youngest track and field ever to earn Olympic gold and has a world title and record. In an even more impressive feat, McLaughlin can now dangle over Usain Bolts’ head as being the second-youngest athlete to complete the feat in a matter of days (olympics.nbssport.com). Lightning sure strikes twice, doesn’t it?
Right beside McLaughlin was Suni Lee, a gymnast from Minnesota. Lee became the first Hmong American to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Her performance was admired so much that the city of St. Paul held a parade for her and named August 10 Suni Lee day. It’s one thing to win to come close to winning the World Cup or breaking your record but being recognized for a whole day is special.
Two more Olympics to be recognized. Katie Ledecky broke the world record in 1500m freestyle by ten seconds. This would be her first time in a 25-meter pool, making the performance have more splash. From the pool to the pipes, Shaun White retired from snowboarding this year and ended his career without a medal on the halfpipe, but was proud of his career and thanked everyone for their support. Despite America’s lackluster run in the World Cup, athletes represented the country well on the global stage. As the United States hosts the next event, here’s to a better result.
Nationally, America’s sports had lots of headlines to cover. The Cincinnati Bengals made it to the Super Bowl as did the Los Angeles Rams, and it was held in SoFi Stadium (home of the LA Rams). While the Rams lifted the Lombardi Trophy, they are now 4-9 and debuting Baker Mayfield in their matchup. The Bengals are 9-4 winning five straight and looking to defeat the Ravens for division supremacy. Oh, how the tables have turned.
Speaking of tables turning, Tom Brady returned to Tampa Bay where the Bucs are in first place at 6-7. Meanwhile, the New England Patriots are 7-6 and in third place. Perhaps we will have to wait until the playoffs to discover who’s better off.
Lest we forget Brady just lost to Mr. Irrelevant in his debut. Quarterback Brock Purdy was drafted last in the Spring by the San Francisco 49ers, and threw for 185 yards along with a 134.0 rating against Tom Brady. He is the only debuting quarterback to beat Brady, quite an accomplishment. On the topic of Tom Brady, his teammate Antonio Brown had a unique farewell of his own.
Antonio Brown ran into the tunnel without a jersey and waved goodbye to fans in a game against the New York Jets. He was released shortly after, but Brown’s defense was he didn’t want to play through an ankle injury (skysports.com). He may never play again, but he looked to have gone out on a bang for better or for worse.
From NFL to college football, the surprises kept coming. The two biggest upsets were No. 19 Notre Dame fell to Marshall 26-21 and no. 6 Texas A & M lost to Appalachian State 17-14 early on. Another surprise was Alabama losing to Tennessee 52-49, snapping the Volunteer’s 15-game losing streak over the Crimson Tide. The CFP this year will feature Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and TCU. TCU is the second Big 12 team to compete in the CFP and hopes to become the 2023 National Champions.
From football to basketball, one team made plenty of headlines and not the good ones. The Brooklyn Nets might be 18-12 on the court, but off the court, controversy is everywhere. From Kevin Durant demanding a trade request in the offseason to Kyrie Irving’s actions, the Nets are swirling in a PR nightmare. Now, they are hoping to let the news cycle pass and be able to focus on basketball.
Another team who can’t seem to get it together is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had the biggest trade in the offseason. They sit at 14-15 amidst trying to find an answer to succeed. The Rudy Gobert experiment with Karl-Anthony Towns is currently on a detour due to Towns being out, but the rest of the team is struggling to find an identity.
While the Nets and Wolves continue to do their best to deflect controversy, one college basketball team created plenty of it. Saint Peter’s busted brackets left and right as a no. 15 seed, defeating tournament favorites Kentucky in the first round. They became the first no. 15 to reach the Elite Eight, defeating Murray State and Purdue before falling to UNC. Doug Edert was their MVP, despite transferring to Bryant in the offseason. It seems this year, the pot of gold is there for whoever wants it as the teams duke it out on the hardwood.
From the hardwood to hitting the rink, Colorado dominated. Got to give the Colorado Avalanche credit for winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in two decades. They needed all the small things to work out for them, as the fans’ chorus of the Blink-182 song translated to the Avs lifting the trophy. Denver beat Mankato State 5-1 in the finals of the Frozen four. The fans hope both teams can keep the hardware next time around.
The world of sports this year was filled with upsets, records, and controversy. However, the biggest controversy of the year came from World Wrestling Entertainment. Vince McMahon stepped down as the Chairman, and his son-in-law Triple H took over. Fans and wrestlers alike were under the impression he would die before giving up the reigns. That didn’t seem to be the case, as allegations were afloat and Vince took a step-down and out of the spotlight. Now it’s a new era of sports entertainment.
The next year represents a new era of sports as well. Perhaps the Vikings get to the Super Bowl, and the Texans finish last but come out swinging next year. Perhaps TCU wins the CFP. Whether it’s football or another brand, it will be hard for 2023 to capture the magic this year had. Upsets, underdogs, and odds stacked against teams who overcame them. It’s been an honor to highlight some of the events that took place this year. Cheers to another year of sports moments.