Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are already painfully aware that 2016 is being considered one of the worst years ever. You’re probably sick of it, too. Not everything could’ve been that bad right? Among all the genuinely terrible things that happened this year, there were some genuinely amazing moments of joy, triumph, and excitement, too. All brought to us by the wild, wild world of sports.
As the year finally comes to a close, instead of focusing on all of the negative things that happened in the world, let’s look back at some of the best moments of 2016. Moments that showed us hard work can really pay off, fairy-tale endings do exist, and in a world of unpredictability, we can always rely on sports to entertain us. Because as bad as 2016 may have been for a lot of reasons, it was a pretty incredible year for sports.
- The Chicago Cubs won the World Series
The Cubs broke a 108-year curse and won the World Series in seven games.
One-hundred and eight years. Think about that. You probably can’t even wrap your mind around how long ago that was because the oldest person you know is only like 90-something and they don’t even remember what the world was like when they were born because they were still babies.
In 2016 the Cubs were finally able to give their formerly sad and pathetic fan base a title. (I can say that, I am part of that fan base). The entire World Series was a nail-biter and the Cubs even overcame a 3-1 deficit to clinch the title against Cleveland. The final game of the series played out over 4 hours and 28 minutes and even included an extra inning and a rain delay. Baseball is not known for being the most exciting sport, but hey, in 2016, anything was possible.
2. The NBA finals came down to the wire
Maybe you're sick of LeBron, or maybe you think he is the next Lord and Savior. Either way, you can’t deny that the NBA Finals were absolutely electric. Not only did the Cavaliers finally deliver a championship to Cleveland, but they too overcame a 3-1 deficit in the Finals. Who did they have to beat to win? Only the team with the best record in NBA history and the unanimous NBA MVP. Any time that a sport’s final gets so ridiculous that the league itself is accused of cheating, something really awesome must be going on.
The Cavaliers winning meant we also got to party with shirtless J.R. Smith all summer and watch as Cleveland fans were so confused about winning that they literally did not know how to celebrate and climbed on a bunch of buildings and ran around in the streets.
The NBA finals also gave us more Draymond Green, which, unless you fell victim to Draymond Green, you probably enjoyed.
3. The 2016 Rio Olympics
After months of speculation and criticism, the Rio Games went off seemingly without a hitch despite Ryan Lochte’s best efforts. (Seriously, the guy somehow sparked an international incident. SMH.) Sure, that one pool turned green overnight, but from an outsider’s perspective, Rio played host to a pretty epic Olympic Games.
Simone Biles showed the world that she was an absolute gymnastics machine. She is only 19 years old and has already accomplished more in one Olympic Games than 99.999% of people will accomplish in their lives. Four gold medals? Are you kidding me?
Michael Phelps continued to be the best athlete in the world, too. (Which lead to this ... um, great photoshoot for SI).
Sure, the Olympics happen every four years, but this year was really fun and it was even better because a lot of people didn’t think it was even going to happen.
4. Candace Parker won a WNBA title
The L.A. Sparks embraced sweet, sweet victory when they played the Minnesota Lynx for the second year in a row in the WNBA Finals and this time won. Candace Parker has won a slew of WNBA awards including MVP and Rookie of the Year, but this was her elusive, first professional title. It proved to be an emotional victory for the former Tennessee star. She thanked her former coach, the late Pat Summitt, and made us all a little teary-eyed.
5. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50
Regardless of where you stand in the whole Brady vs. Manning debate, you must admit it was pretty cool to see Peyton Manning retire on top. He will likely go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game and his final game in the NFL gave way to his fairy-tale ending.
The Super Bowl was not the most exciting game ever, but it was memorable ... mostly thanks to Von Miller. Miller forced not one, but TWO fumbles from NFL MVP Cam Newton, and was named the Super Bowl MVP for almost single-handedly swinging the game in the Broncos’ favor.
Also, Super Bowl 50 was the first Super Bowl to not use roman numerals, so consider that a win for people who didn't learn Latin in high school (everyone).
6. NCAA March Madness
VILLANOVA WON ON A BUZZER-BEATER.
I dare you to watch that and not get goosebumps. But before the final basket even went in, the end game was already bananas. With only 4.7 seconds left, Marcus Paige tied it all up with an impossible, off-balance three-point shot. Tarheels fans felt a glimmer of hope before Nova inbounded the ball and, well, you saw the rest.
Crying Jordan memes reached an all-time high that night and have since been almost obsolete. Another 2016 miracle.
7. Leicester City
In the most soccer move of all time, Leicester City won the Premier League title because of a tie. A tie you say? Well that’s not exciting. Oh, on the contrary. Watching these guys find out that they won the title after almost being relegated the year before was quite priceless.
And yes, they were 5,000-to-1 odds. FIVE-THOUSAND-TO-ONE ODDS. Apparently, that’s the equivalent of Cal State Bakersfield winning the 2016 NCAA title. (They didn’t.) (Also didn’t know that team existed.)
If there is one thing you remember about Leicester City winning the Premier League title, it was their “impossible” odds. Also, you probably also learned how to pronounce Leicester and subsequently forgot.
8. Notre Dame went 4-8
This was not Notre Dame’s year. Which pretty much means it was everyone else’s year because there are a lot of people who actively root against the Irish. If I had a dollar for every person who tweeted about Notre Dame going 4-8 in 2016, then I wouldn’t need this job. But Notre Dame was really, really bad this year, and if that makes people happy in a year that was generally shitty, then fine.
(P.S. I am a Notre Dame graduate, as are my all of my family members. See? Sometimes Notre Dame fans can be good sports, too!)
(P.P.S. Can you please stop making fun of us now? No? Fine.)
9. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is back. Don’t believe me? He shot a 70 at the Hero World Challenge. Vintage Tiger.
He also tweeted this.
Xmas tradition that my kids love. Mac Daddy Santa is back! -TW pic.twitter.com/pCWZNNKPRG— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) December 22, 2016
See? It wasn’t so bad.
Happy New Year, sports fans.