By Michael Battista
Another school year is coming to a close and while the College’s students study for final exams and finish up projects, I feel it’s important to look back at the year in sports. Though it’s impossible to recall everything, as I look back, it seems as though fans nearly got to witness the impossible.
To start the school year off, the World Series was one for the ages. It was a must-watch for the seven games it took to determine a winner. A combined 176 years without a championship between the two teams, the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians looked to make history by avenging years of failure.
Cleveland took a 3-1 series lead after four games, but this time, unlike the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last summer, it was Chicago who came back to win it all in an incredible seventh game. That cool November game saw a home run lead it off, back and forth scoring, and a rain delay. Then, after nine innings the teams were tied before the Cubs earned the 8-7 win with a single run. When first baseman Anthony Rizzo told catcher David Rosss that he was in a “glass case of emotions,” I wondered how many fans in both cities could relate.
Another streak was broken only one month later on the college gridiron. The annual Army-Navy game saw the former win for the first time in 14 years, 21-17, in M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. While not a bowl game, it deserves to be among the highlights of the college football season and ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt explains why on his 1 Big Thing segment.
“These are not men who are gonna play on Sundays,” Van Pelt said, according to ESPN. “But the men and women of our military academies are the best of us. Smarter, disciplined, more vigilant.”
Army saw their lead fade away in the fourth quarter, but tough resolve and a solid defense helped them achieve the win.
The win was inspired not only for every future servicemen in that stadium, but for the fallen Army cornerback, Brandon Jackson, who was killed in a car accident earlier that season.
Also this year, college sports set the biggest upsets of the school year. Clemson knocked off Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship game, the University of South Carolina make it to the Final Four of March Madness and the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team lost for the first time in more than three years.
Whether it be disdain against Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban or rooting for the underdog once your bracket was busted, sports fans found themselves drawn to these incredible events.
February was a tough month for everyone here at the College.
We were all returning from a relaxing winter break, the cold days seemed far from over and the New England Patriots won Super Bowl LI in an improbable fashion, 34-28, against the Atlanta Falcons.
Quarterback Tom Brady was in full-on vengeance mode after being suspended four games during the start of the season. He carried his team to make a 25 point comeback.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a lot to think about when it comes to the final plays of that game, such as running the ball to clinch a win. His team played like champions for three quarters, but in the end you can’t sleep on Brady no matter how big the lead. I can’t deny that No. 12 is the greatest quarterback I’ve ever seen play the game.
But where there is great triumph, there is also great loss. This school year was no exception.
When athletes die, fans can’t help but hope that they are remembered fondly and try to remember them at their glorious moments. This year saw a few major deaths, all with varying emotions and reactions.
The baseball world mourned in unison last September, when the news broke that Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández was killed in a boating accident off the coast of Miami.
In tribute to the Cuban athlete, the Marlins retired his number and erected a statue outside their stadium to show how much the young man was loved. However, Fernández’s reputation suffered when the final investigation report determined that the pitcher was driving the boat recklessly while intoxicated and on cocaine. This leaves many wondering where the young star’s legacy stands.
The tragic loss of nearly the entire Brazilian Chapecoense soccer team also rocked the entire sports world in late November 2016. We saw these players, 19 in total, taken away in the blink of an eye as they traveled to compete in their team’s first ever Copa Sudamericana final. I think we can all agree it was tragic. But the moments of strength and unity that came from the event were inspiring.
The team was awarded the title after their opponents, Atlético Nacional, requested it be done. The Brazilian fan base also came together for 90 minutes of silence. And while the owner of the airline, LaMia, continues to be investigated for poorly handling fuel requirements for its planes, the players will remain to be known as heroes.
The sports world had a wild and chaotic year. Players on the field put their hearts into each play, and reporters worked all hours of the day and night to bring us the news.
We can look forward to more big news next year. Whether you get your news from Sports Illustrated or The Signal, the sports world doesn’t stop for anyone.