If sports was simply about playing, scoring and athleticism, the talk of the decade would pertain to Tiger Woods and his unfathomable dominance. Controversy and sex, however, make and shape what is considered news. What dominates talk regarding Mr. Woods, then, is how he wrought total havoc on his personal and social universe. As with many, perhaps every preceding year, the 2013 sporting landscape is littered with much of the same debris. Fortunately, the good side of sports, what drives so many to watch and become passionate about a bunch of games, often shines through the scandal. Here are a few stories that did:
Miami Heat as the 2013 NBA Champs On the court, at least some distance from controversy, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat won the 2013 NBA Championship. Their second title in as many years, Miami defeated the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. Game 6 went to overtime and, an elimination game at the time, was an absolute thriller. This South Florida all star basketball team is establishing its place in history among the best. Everyone in Cleveland, and elsewhere, who still carry a grudge for the way LeBron left the Cavaliers, are nonplussed. In the course of this championship season, Miami steamrolled their way through the league, including a 27-game winning streak; the second longest in NBA history. The Heat are good. Might just have to accept it.
Lance Armstrong’s Betrayal Two years into his retirement Lance Armstrong was still making news, and it’s all bad. In a PR maneuver that has served troubled celebrities from Michael Jackson to Tom Cruise, Armstrong sat down for an interview with media mega-presence Oprah Winfrey. More akin to the Lindsay Lohan example, Lance found that if your level of betrayal is exceeded by your poor attitude, even Oprah’s nurturing can’t help you. Mindful that other offenders have come clean, apologized then been allowed to pick up the pieces of their lives, Armstrong misjudged the ire of the public he misled and disdained. Armstrong’s admission of blood doping did not pave the road to recovery as he had hoped. Rather it has served to condemn, and confirm for a jaded fan base that is tired of shelling out emotion, income and significant attention to false idols. Officially stripped of what was perhaps the most amazing athletic accomplishment this side of Jesse Owens, the Armstrong legacy now lies in tattered ruin like so much twisted carbonite beside an Alpine cobblestone street.
Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series Victory The ongoing Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees rivalry was a tad muted this year as, truly, only one of these teams was competitive. The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles, for goodness sake, battled Boston in an upended American League East. The Yankees, missing much of their traditional swagger—that is to say lacking those five or six hitters with unrealistic muscles and slugging percentages—were absent from the October postseason push. Baseball’s other American League dynasty then, the Boston Red Sox, dominated headlines and the MLB. Anyone not paying attention, due largely to the absence of the Yankees—love them or hate them, the Yankees are good for baseball—couldn’t ignore David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series. The Sox were down 1-5 in the game, with two outs in the eighth inning, down 0-1 in the series against the sizzling Detroit Tigers. That one swing of the bat was all that separated the “2013 Boston Red Sox World Series Champions” from “2013 Boston Red Sox need to shave.” The 2013 Boston Red Sox may not have been a team of destiny, but in a year when tragedy struck at the Boston Marathon and with the bizarre case of Aaron Hernandez, the Sox give Boston, and all who do despise the Yankees, reason to celebrate.
2013 BCS Champion Alabama The Crimson Tide collegiate football team wins a lot. In the 70s, under legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, Alabama was better than the Dallas Cowboys. The 21st-Century version is really good, too. It happened really early in the year, on January 7, but the 2013 BCS National Championship Game has reaffirmed the SEC and the Tide as, respectively, college football’s conference and team of the millennium. The BCS Bowl Game pitted No.1 ranked, undefeated Notre Dame against No. 2 Alabama in what amounted to one of the most exciting landslide victories in sports. On this day, the Irish’s best player couldn’t shake the feigned distress over his fake girlfriend’s pretend death, and he also couldn’t tackle. The Tide rolled 42-14. The win was ‘Bama’s second straight title, and third in four years. The excitement caused be a recent missed-field goal return by Auburn is evidence enough that the nation is on notice.
Christopher Schmidt is a freelance writer experiencing and espousing the glory that is Orange County. Driven to travel, drawn to sports, spirits and celebrity, Chris’ work can be found on