Written by Lyndon Deslauriers, RSBS Finance Director
In some way, 2021 was more normal than 2020. With packed schedules, fans in the stadium, and a return to regular scheduled programming, sports rose from the grave. The news started to pick up and our eyes turned to start following the action (obviously).
Continue reading as we breakdown the Top 10 Sports News Stories of 2021...
1. Tom Brady Wins Super Bowl
In 2020, Tom Brady packed his bags and left the New England Patriots after 19 seasons, on the search for a new challenge. While there was much speculation around where Brady would land, Tampa was always a top possible destination. The combination of skilled receivers, a stout defence and experiences coaches drew Brady to the sunshine state, on top of the weather and beach I presume. Brady reached new historical heights in 2021, becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl on home field, while also adding to his NFL leading 7th Super Bowl ring. Brady built on his already untouchable legacy, entering him into the conversation of greatest athlete of all time.
2. Tiger Woods Car Accident
Arguably one of the most famous athletes in the world, Tiger Woods grabs headlines with whatever he does. In February 2021, Woods snagged headlines again after crashing his car into the side of a roadway in Rancho Palos Verdes, an ocean side estate community outside Los Angeles. Woods was seriously injured, reportedly almost requiring his leg to be amputated. For months, he remained silent, making no public appearances or statements. However, on a positive note, Tiger Woods recently reappeared in the public light, after making a remarkably quick and full recovery. This past month, he and his son Charlie, 12, competed in a father son golf challenge against other pros, and both looked great on the course, finishing in second place overall. A happy ending to an otherwise terrible and sad story for Tiger.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning Repeat as Stanley Cup Champions
The trend of winning in Tampa Bay continued, as the Lighting won their second consecutive Stanley cup, beating out the Montreal Canadians in a five-game series.
Tampa made headlines for a controversial salary cap manipulation loophole, in which their top and highest paid player was on injured reserve all year, therefore not counting against the salary cap. After the season ends, the salary cap is no longer applicable, and the lighting simply activated him off reserve and he played during the finals.
This aspect of the salary cap
will be discussed and debated by presidents and executives in the years to come, however, the NHLPA (players association) and the NHL agreed to a collective bargaining agreement in July 2020 to continue play through the 2025-2026 season, preventing the league from imposing any new salary cap rules.
4. Messi to PSG
In a move that shocked the entire world, Lionel Messi was transferred to PSG following the expiration of his contract with Barcelona. Messi, one the best players in the world, made the dramatic move three years after rival Rinaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus. The shift of star players out of Spain is concerning for La Liga, as the league will no doubt lose their already established viewership and exposure. The exit of both players is speculated to be related to tax fraud cases both players fought against the Spanish government. In 2017, Messi and his father were found guilty of defrauding the Spanish government of taxes related to endorsement income. In 2019, Ronaldo plead guilty to tax fraud and was ordered to pay a fine of nearly 19 million euros.
5. The Tokyo Olympics
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics finally took place in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada sent a strong slate of athletes to Tokyo, with Canadian women leading the way. The women won 5/7 of Canada’s gold medals, while also contributing 18/24 overall medals for Canada. It's safe to say Canadian Women dominated the Canadian Olympic stage. New stars were born as Maggie Mac Neil captured a gold, silver, and bronze. Familiar faces also continued their dominance for Canada, with Penny Oleksiak capturing 3 medals, in addition to a thrilling gold medal from the Canadian women’s soccer team. A few Canadian men also shined in Tokyo. Andre De Grasse captured his first Olympic gold, alongside two bronze medals for the track star. Damien Warner won the gold medal in the decathlon, a massive worldwide accomplishment. Overall, the Olympics were successful for Canada, as Canada earned the most medals at an Olympics since the Soviet boycott in 1984.
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6. Milwaukee Bucks Win NBA Title
After several years of early and disappointing playoff exits, the Bucks finally made it all the way to the NBA finals. After recent years of few top players dominating the NBA finals, 2021 was the first year neither Lebron, Durant or Leonard were not playing in the NBA finals. This gave the NBA some much needed parity, as the Bucks faced off against the Suns. While the story lines were not headline grabbing, the Bucks and their leader, Giannis Antetokounmpo made history winning their first NBA title since 1971.
7. NCAA – Name, Image, and Likeness
July 2021 was a historical month for the NCAA and student athletes, as legislation was passed opening the door for players to earn income based on their name, image, and likeness. In plain words, this means players can sign endorsement and brand deals to earn income while on scholarship. Over the summer, I wrote an article about the development, and I asked, “will NIL change the NCAA landscape?” A short 4 months later, we have our answer, YES. Recent developments in the college football have displayed the power of NIL, and its ability to change the way college football operates. Top 2022 high school recruit Travis Hunter shocked the nation after de-committing from Florida State, and choosing to attend Jackson State University, an HBCU (historically black college and university). The commitment is reportedly due to a huge (million $) NIL deal for Hunter that Jackson State coordinated in partnership with Barstool sports. Jackson State head coach and NFL legend Deion Sanders is employed at Barstool sports, explaining the partnership opportunity. In addition to this, universities are actively recruiting players using NIL as a “perk” of attending their university.
Read our full run-down on NIL here.
8. Athletes Prioritize Mental Health
In 2021, elite level athletes made unprecedented strides in the battle against mental health challenges in sport. Simon Biles and Naomi Osaka both made headlines when they put their mental health first by each withdrawing from their respected events. These unprecedented moves opened the conversation the importance of maintaining positive mental health while being a high-level athlete.
These two superstars put their mental health first, setting the stage of athletes to follow their path in the years to come. Especially with the difficulties related to Covid, mental health in athletics was a headline making story in 2021.
9. Atlanta Braves Win the World Series
Coming into the playoffs as a complete underdog, the Braves stunned the world and won their first World Series in 25 years. While everyone loves a good underdog story, the Braves also earned praise for knocking off the Houston Astros, suspected of defrauding the entire MLB with their cheating scandal in 2018. The Braves, a combination of veteran and younger talent, with the addition of ex Blue Jays GM and Canadian Alex Anthopoulos outlasted the Astros in a 6-game series. The world series win has been clouded by the fact the MLB is currently locking out their players, the first labor stoppage in 25 years.
10. Italy Wins Euro 2020
Taking place in 2021 due to the tournament being cancel in 2020, Italy regained their European crown beating England in penalties to win the 2020 Euro. For the first time, the event was hosted across 11 countries in Europe, while it is typically held in only one or two host countries. This unique format set up a dramatic final match, with England hosting the Euro final at Wembley stadium in London. Italy held the England squad to a draw after full time and won the match 3-2 on penalties. Euro 2024 is scheduled to be hosted by Germany, who beat out Turkey in a bid to host the event.
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