2016 may be accepted widely as a year of major suckitude, but the gods have allowed sports to be a refuge in the storms of a traumatic year. We’ve got underdog stories, broken curses, impossible comebacks, and more drama than all the Kardashian Snapchat accounts combined. Here we go.
1. Leicester City F.C. wins the English Premier League!
The impossibly-pronounced football club – okay wait a minute let me talk about this before we move on. I mean, LESS-TAH? What happened to the “ICE” right there in the middle? You can’t just decide to skip these words! It’s gotta be LEH-CHESTER. God save the Queen and also phonetics please. /rant
To put into context Leicester City’s achievement, only five teams have won the Premier League title since 1992 and sadly most of them have gone to Manchester United, with 13 titles. More remarkably, their wage bill of £48.5m was literally a quarter that of Manchester United’s, but their lack of spending power didn’t inhibit their firepower as they comfortably won the title by 10 points.
Claudio Ranieri, once upon a time sacked by Roman’s Chelsea for not flying the heights that they thought they deserved, guided the team through the impossible, and all with a smile on his face. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLEEEEEEEEE!
2. Cavaliers end Cleveland’s 52-year sporting curse!
While I admire LeBron’s considerable on-court abilities as would anyone with a love for basketball, I could never quite get past his passive-aggressive posturing off the hardwood. So it was much to my own surprise how emotional I felt watching Lebron burst into tears, mobbed by his teammates at the end of the final buzzer. Cleveland had broken its 52-year championship drought; the prodigal son had returned and brought home an NBA title.
At that moment, all was forgiven; the Decision, “I’m Coming Home”, even the deluge of “warriors 3-1” memes that were to come.
3. Chicago Cubs win first World Series in 108 years!
108 years. That was how long ago the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series, the longest drought of any Major League team in history. Their drought spanned 16 US Presidents, two wars, the invention of the radio, the television, the airplane. The Titanic was sunk (1912), found (1985), then sunk again in the 1996 movie. That they did this in a Game 7 victory after being down 3-1 in the series? There must be a God.
Speaking of divine intervention, check out this list in which the magical 108 numerical prophecy was apparently fulfilled.
4. Conor McGregor *apologizes*
We know real men don’t apologize, they applelogize, but this was still incredible because of the plot twist right at the end of a seeming humble moment from McGregor.
Peruse Exhibit A:
“I’ve spent a lot of time, Joe, slating everybody in the company…”
“Backstage, I’m starting fights with everybody…”
“I’ve ridiculed everyone on the roster…”
“I’d just like to say from the bottom of my heart…”
“I’d like to take this chance to apologise…”
“To absolutely nobody.”
” THE DOUBLE CHAMP DOES WHAT THE FUCK HE WANTS!”
Conor McGregor is the most likeable asshole in the world right now.
5. Michael Phelps at the 2016 Olympics
The celebration of personalities in pop culture often lift them to a level of expectation they can never attain. We set up our heroes to disappoint, and wonder why mortal men fail.
Which is we loved this genuine, heartfelt moment at the 2016 Olympics. It’s probably the Singaporean bias at work here but Michael Phelp’s deference to Joseph Schooling at the press conference after the 100m butterfly finals was an understated moment that spoke volumes of his character.
“Joe should be getting most of the questions. This kid just won a gold medal, guys. Let’s ask him some more questions.”
Phelps was a much-revered idol of Schooling. He is also the most decorated and probably greatest Olympian of all-time. With a smile and a shrug, he gently turned the spotlight he had grown so comfortable to away from himself, to a boy he met 8 years ago.
That same boy who was, in his own words, “shell-shocked” just being able to take a photo with the legend who so inspired him.
As they stood side by side once again in the aftermath of competition, you couldn’t help but feel that though Phelps was not the victor this time round, he’s never stood taller.