There is no denying 2020 has been an unprecedented experience. In a year that has taken so much from so many people, it seemed as though this particular year was relentless. From the coronavirus pandemic to a handful of other important issues much bigger than sports, this year has been trying for millions of people all around the globe. Sports, however, seemed to be a getaway from the harsh realities surrounding everyday life. There were plenty of moments in this year of sports that made us feel liberated, heartbroken and ready for better days ahead. Here’s my 2020 sports review.
Chiefs Kingdom Wins First Super Bowl In 50 Years
I know Super Bowl LIV crowned the best team from the 2019 NFL season. However, but the event itself was held in February of 2020, just over a month shy of our country being sent into lockdown. The Chiefs and 49ers battled in a very entertaining game, with the Chiefs trailing 20-10 at halftime. Patrick Mahomes then worked his magic, helping the Chiefs tally 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter on their way to their first Super Bowl victory since 1969. Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP and would later sign a contract worth upwards of 500 million dollars.
More importantly, the Super Bowl would be the last major sports event to have fans in attendance in 2020. WrestleMania, the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, Kentucky Derby, Masters and World Series would all be held without fans in attendance.
Rest In Peace, Mamba
The year 2020 started on a tragic note with the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, as well as seven others in a helicopter crash on January 26th. Eight passengers and the pilot were killed after the helicopter carrying Kobe to a youth basketball tournament slammed into a hillside in Calabasas, CA.
Not only was Kobe one of the greatest to ever play the game, he was also a world renowned celebrity and an even greater father to his children. The loss of the 5x NBA champion and 18x All Star not only sent shockwaves throughout the sports community, but also the entire nation. Kobe was one of a kind; the kind of player that transcends the sport and becomes part of everyday life. Kobe inspired an entire generation of kids to imitate his likeness. No matter who you were in high school, whenever you went to throw out a piece of paper in class you always caught yourself doing a fade away and yelling “Kobe.”
With an Academy Award under his belt and the launch of his own sneaker brand on the way, Kobe was taken from this world far too soon. The idea of “Mamba Mentality,” a state of mind to help people build confidence, has now become a staple for people doing good in this world. RIP, Mamba.
Burrow Leads LSU to Natty, Then Goes No. 1
LSU’s 2019-20 football season was one of the most prolific college football seasons ever. Joe Burrow led the Tigers to a perfect 15-0 season and LSU’s first National Championship in 12 years with a 42-25 win over Clemson. Burrow also won the Heisman Trophy and went 1st overall in the NFL Draft. Quite the exciting year for the “Tiger King.” Here’s hoping he has success in Cincinnati.
Brady Joins The Bucs
I’ll admit I never expected Brady to leave New England. Yet sure enough, he did just that. It started with a simple post on Instagram, a cryptic message hinting that Brady wasn’t going to return. I thought it was just another marketing scheme. Then there it is, Tom Brady finalizing an agreement in March to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2020 season.
Brady signed a two-year base value contract worth $50 million dollars and hasn’t looked back since. Add Gronk and AB to a talented team and you’ve got yourself quite the offense at Brady’s disposal. Sure, he might have walked into the wrong house down in Tampa upon his arrival, but since taking the helm for the Bucs they are 10-5 and just made the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Dodgers and the Lakers brought championships back to the City of Angels in 2020. The Dodgers won their first World Series since 1988 and the Lakers won their 17th NBA Finals. The latter was especially important due to the loss of Kobe Bryant.
Some claim these are “Mickey Mouse” championships. At the end of the day, though, these guys have rings and you don’t. To be able to win a championship while being away from your family for months proves how deserving each team was in their respective championship campaigns.
Lightning Strikes Twice
Gotta show some love for the Tampa Bay Lightning here too. A year after being swept in the first round, the Tampa Bay Lightning returned with a vengeance. The Lightning were again favorites to win and this time proved they were more than willing to meet the challenge. Tampa Bay won their second Stanley Cup title, eliminating Columbus on their way. I guess you could say that Lightning struck twice in 2020.
Despite the Dodgers winning the World Series, the San Diego Padres were arguably the most exciting team in 2020. While guys like Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. led the charge, they had plenty of talented backup. Austin Nola, Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar and Jake Cronenworth became the supporting cast San Diego desperately needed. The results paid off.
The Padres would eventually be swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS, but proved they can make a postseason push. San Diego hasn’t had much success lately, but if 2020 was any indication of where this franchise is going, the Friar Faithful should be elated.
Adding Mike Clevinger before the trade deadline and Blake Snell and Yu Darvish in the offseason, all while keeping the top of their farm system intact, was great GM work by AJ Preller. They still have MacKenzie Gore and Adrian Morejon to eventually add to their deadly starting rotation. Oh yeah, and they also just signed top international prospect Ha-Seong Kim to a four-year contract. They clearly want the NL West in 2021. Watch out, Dodgers!
Play Like A Girl
While most of 2020 sucked, it was a groundbreaking year for women in sports. We saw women become more prevalent on the field and in the front office of male-dominated sports.
The Miami Marlins hired a new GM in November: Kim Ng. This made her the first female GM in MLB history. Ng spent nine years serving as a senior vice president for the MLB. 10 months prior, Alyssa Nakken became the first woman named on an MLB coaching staff after being hired by the San Francisco Giants. It appears the glass ceiling is being shattered for women in baseball.
In November, we witnessed Sarah Fuller become the first woman to make an appearance in a Power Five conference game. Fuller was the goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team. Amidst a bind that left them without a kicker, the Commodores football team brought in Fuller as the team’s replacement kicker. The Vanderbilt offense was grueling to watch, unfortunately, so we were not able to catch Fuller attempt her first FG. Two weeks later, though, Fuller became the first woman to ever score in a major college football game after she sent an extra point against Tennessee through the uprights. That ball was immediately shipped to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Other Successful Women In Sports
2020 continued to bring success for females revolutionizing the sports industry. Katie Sowers, an offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, became the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl. The WNBA and its union announced a eight-year labor deal allowing players to earn more than $500,000 and raising the average annual salary to $130,000 a year.
Speaking of the WNBA, 6X WNBA All Star and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first woman to serve as acting head coach in an NBA game after Gregg Popovich’s ejection against the Lakers this week. The National Women’s Hockey League also announced in December that they will be televised on NBC, capping off an impressive year for women in sports.
Goodbye, 2020, and Good Riddance
What a year. Franchises rebuilding, revolutionizing the game while others crash and burn. The year where the Jets killed their chance at getting Trevor Lawrence. Vince Carter’s curtain call. KD and Kyrie together in Brooklyn. The Cleveland Browns with a winning record. The year we lost soccer legend Diego Maradona. A year of many ups and downs. Most importantly, the year we learned the value of living our lives to the fullest, because tomorrow is never guaranteed. 2020 you will not be missed.