Remember when big sports stories took place on fields, courts, rinks, tracks, courses and inside rings?
Have you seen the lists of the top sports stories for 2014?
According to a poll of 94 Associated Press sports editors, the biggest sports story of the year took place in an elevator.
Yep. Ray Rice knocking out his fiance.
According to the AP, domestic violence in the NFL was 2014’s biggest sports story.
Forty years ago the biggest story was also about violence in an enclosed area – The Rumble in the Jungle. That was the night that Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman to regain the heavyweight championship.
Ali was voted AP Athlete of the Year. Not bad when you consider that Henry Aaron had broken Babe Ruth’s career home run record a few months before.
The story that finished second in the AP voting was Donald Sterling. You remember Donald. He used to be owner of the Los Angeles Clippers until the team was taken away from him based on stupid, bigoted remarks that were recorded without his knowledge (and probably illegally).
Another sad and pathetic story, but having nothing to do with anybody doing anything athletic.
After LeBron going back to Cleveland and the first openly gay athletes in the NBA and NFL, none of which included anything that actually involved, you know, competition, the voters finally got around to an athletic exercise at number five -the Giants winning the World Series.
Six is the success of the College Football Playoff, which is kind of about an actual sporting event. Seven through 10 are all stories about athletic competition – assuming you consider sprint car drivers athletes- Tony Stewart’s fatal accident is number seven.
Eight is the World Cup.
Nine is the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl and 10 is the Sochi Olympics.
The only problem I have with five, eight, nine and 10 is that those events always qualify as the biggest stories of the year. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to call the Super Bowl one of the year’s biggest stories.
Here are three real sports stories that the AP missed.
1. The Kansas City Royals making it to the World Series. Come on. This is a small market team that used to be a model Major League Baseball franchise.
They hadn’t won a playoff game in 30 years because of MLB’s ridiculous economics. ESPN surveyed 43 experts for their 2013 predictions.
Two picked the Royals to make the playoffs.
They overcame all of the stupid roadblocks that exist in Major League Baseball and went to the World Series. That used to qualify as a pretty good sports story.
2. The demise of Tiger Woods. This guy was pretty good at one time. He finished 69th at the 2014 U.S. Open and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.
It wasn’t all that long ago that no sports figure in America was bigger than Woods. Maybe if he had smashed a few more windshields with his five iron he would have made AP’s list.
3. The end of defense in the NFL. Has anybody noticed how many scoring and passing records, both single season and career, are being broken in the NFL?
For quarterbacks having a good day, 400 yards is the new 300. Defense is all but inconsequential in a league that used to be defined by it. Now it’s all about turnovers.
Pretty soon it’ll be all about who has the ball last. The game is going through a major metamorphosis.
Maybe our friends at the Associated Press feel a need to measure the scope or value of a sports story by how clearly it reflects everything that’s wrong with the human race.
Meanwhile, the AP left out what was the biggest and most important non-sports sports story of the year. Academic fraud in the University of North Carolina athletic department.