As 2017 comes to a close it’s safe to say that, objectively, it was a very bad year. I’ve taken to calling it “the longest year on record” because it has stretched on and on and seemingly warped time as it went. Some moments that, at least according to conventional numbers, happened in 2017 seem like they occurred years ago.
But reviewing a year or any period of time is entirely arbitrary. Move the goal posts a bit and your conclusion could be completely different. Was it a good month? Bad fortnight? Maybe you had a good corporate quarter or can reassure yourself that things will get right by Chinese New Year. It’s all relative.
Regardless of the measuring stick, 2017 will likely go down as a year of massive change, the 365 days that took 2016’s conclusions and violently put them into effect. Each day it felt like the landscape was shifting, sometimes slowly but always gradually changing. The national conversation oscillated wildly. We became embroiled in scandals. Consumed by crisis. Obsessed with the outrage many feel necessary to operate in the modern world. There is hope in these crisis, but it can all be so overwhelming.
And when the things we find refuge in — sports and music and movies — are invaded by the realities of the real world it can be difficult to handle. I came back to writing about sports full time in 2017, the gravitational pull of moonlighting as a blogger and reporter simply too much to resist. I’ve never written more words in my life, and I’ve never spent more time online.
Tasked to find something positive in the world of sports to look back on, however, I found myself only seeing how all the bad of 2017 got in the way. So much of what I’ve written about here has fixated on political attacks on athletes of color and the way politics impact sports. There is no such thing as sticking to sports. The culture and the world around the playing surface impacts everything that happens on it, and it’s downright negligent to ignore or dismiss it. But when it comes down to the reasons we value sports in the first place, none of the Big Picture Issues ever come up.
In trying to find my favorite moments in sports I’ve often been left wanting. Most of the results were expected, and the things I personally hoped for were only met with failure. The Patriots won the Super Bowl with a frantic comeback Donald Trump never saw. The Pittsburgh Penguins repeated as Stanley Cup Champions. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers faced off in an NBA Finals most knew the outcome of before it began. Somehow all the main stories of 2017 felt predictable in hindsight. Even LaVar Ball seemed to be working off a script.