Top Ten sports stories of 2013

Jan 4, 2014 by

10. Tiger Woods re-emerging as world number one

Tiger won 5 PGA tournaments in 2013 and showed that he is still capable of dominating the tour.  He’s now ranked number one in the world and finally appears to have overcome the impact of his personal failings and public ridicule.   His next significant hurdle is finding a way to win a Major, something he hasn’t done since he won the US Open in 2008.   Once he starts winning Majors again, the golf world will truly start focusing on his legacy, instead of his past indiscretions.

9.  The Rise and fall of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Most Maple Leafs fans were just happy that Toronto made the playoffs for the first time since 2004.  No one expected that they could beat one of the Stanley Cup favourites in the Boston Bruins, especially after being down 3-1 in their best of seven playoff series.  But there they were, up 4-1 with ten minutes remaining in Game 7, in Boston, only to blow it in a historic collapse, losing 5-4 in overtime. It’s a loss that will resonate for generations to come, but for the sake of Maple Leafs fans, let’s hope the team learned something from that debacle that can propel them to future success.

8.  The Emergence of Canadian Tennis

It’s a special time for tennis in Canada.  The Davis Cup team were within one match of getting to the final, losing only to Serbia and world number one Novak Djokovic in the decisive match.  Milos Raonic emerged as a top ten player, Vasek Pospisil cracked the top 40 and the ageless Daniel Nestor continues to be a dominant doubles player. On the women’s side, Eugenie Bouchard won the WTA newcomer of the year, and seems poised to become a future great. All signs point to an exciting future for tennis in Canada, we may even be witnessing the early stages of a golden era for the sport.  The one thing that will largely determine that, is if Raonic can take the next step and find a way to win a Grand Slam.  Call it a gut feeling, but something tells me Bouchard will do it first. Either way it would be a huge step for Canadian tennis – it should be an exciting 2014 season.

7. The A-Rod Witch-hunt

I’ve discussed this in an earlier article for your reference here, but it seems clear Bud Selig has a personal vendetta with Alex Rodriguez and will do everything in his power to prevent him from breaking any more records. In my opinion, Selig’s legacy will forever be tarnished for how he has mishandled and alienated the great players of his tenure ie Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and now Alex Rodriguez.  There is no justifiable reason why A-Rod, as unlikable as he is, should get a 216 game ban, an unprecedented punishment, for his alleged steroid use, when the next highest suspension was 65 games, handed to Ryan Braun.  History will not remember Selig well – mark my words.

6. The Rise and fall of the Toronto Blue Jays

This was one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays.  The blockbuster moves in the off-season to bring in high-end talent in the pitching rotation (Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson) and on the field (Jose Reyes) brought about enormous hope and excitement for Torontonians and even led Las Vegas prognosticators to make the Blue Jays World Series favourites before a single game was played. Instead everything that could go wrong did in fact go wrong; the season was plagued by injuries, immaturity, underperformance and poor play.  The Blue Jays would finish in last place in the AL East with an unforeseeable 74-88 and no one knows what to expect from this team in 2014.  It will be interesting to see how this team performs in 2014.

5. The decline of Roger Federer

He can still play at a high level, but he is no longer capable of winning Grand Slams.  He wasn’t close to winning a major this year and the gap between him and the very best is widening. Federer just cannot keep up with Rafael Nadal or Djokovic and a player of his status doesn’t care about playing just to make a pay cheque and lose in the quarterfinals.  It’s about winning, that’s what the greats care about and he cannot do it anymore. One of the greats of all time is sadly done and it’s time for him to walk away and preserve the greatness of his legacy.

4. Lance Armstrong confession

Well it’s about time Lance. No one should really be surprised or care that much he confessed to cheating. He is yet another athlete who knows it’s easier to be deceitful and disingenuous in order to attain and preserve power and then use an apology as a weapon to justify his actions only when he gets caught.  The truth is, Lance was the best drug using cyclist in an era and a sport defined by drug use and cheating.  He has done a great deal of good over the years and inspired thousands, if not millions, of people to donate to charity and to find inner strength in times of despair.  He’s an interesting character in that he appears to be a lying, egomaniacal narcissist, who is also a motivational symbol for many athletes and cancer victims.  The sad thing is everyone wanted to believe that Lance was clean and moral, and that he was somehow above all the drug use and cheating accusations.  It turned out he was just highly a competitive man who did everything in his power to protect his ego and his legacy.  He was still a great athlete, but not the moral ethical icon all of America championed him to be.

3. Oscar Pistorius murdering his girlfriend

I found this story to be the most shocking sports story of the year.  Pistorius is one of the darlings of sport in South Africa.  I don’t believe he should have been allowed to compete in the Olympics and was only allowed to run because he had no chance of winning, but his athletic accomplishments are nothing short of inspirational and incredible.  He also murdered his fiancée and is claiming it was an accident.  His story is difficult to believe or empathize with and on the surface it seems like he murdered his wife in cold blood.   But this case also reveals the systemic fears built in in South African culture, one which is far more in touch with random and targeted violence than we in North America are accustomed to or understand.  It’s a fascinating story and another sad example of an athlete who has it all only to self-destruct with tragic consequences.

2. Boston Marathon bombing

I think this could easily be number one on my list, but I chose to take a more Canadian centric perspective for my first choice.  I also feel like a much worse sporting disaster is likely to happen that will make this bombing look like another drive-by-shooting in Compton.   This was still a horrific tragedy, but it’s not surprising.  America has made a lot of enemies and breeds a violent culture, that which inspires hatred and random acts of violence like no other developed nation in the world. I can’t help but feel this event is a precursor to something much bigger, something no one wants to bear witness too or talk about.   I also hope I’m wrong with this assessment.

1.   The Rogers-NHL deal

The 5.2 billion 12 year deal which grants exclusive NHL rights to Rogers will change the sporting landscape in Canada for generations.  The CBC will slowly get phased out, and consequently so will Don Cherry.  TSN will have to completely reinvent itself as a sports provider and all the great sporting talent will move to Rogers or go south of the border.  Yes, fans will have more options and accessibility to their favourite hockey teams, but we will also be at the mercy of the costs of a growing monopoly.  It’s comical how Rogers championed the relationship calling it a victory for hockey fans.  In reality, the sole victor is Rogers, the deal has placed all power in a single sporting entity, destroyed its competition and the fans will be at the mercy of the pricing laid out by Rogers.   Despite what Rogers wants you to believe, monopolies aren’t good for business folks – but you will find out about that in due time.



  1. Adam

    Nice recap for the year. Rogers has put the nail in the coffin for CBC hockey night and Canada. Only by giving CBC 4 years of saturday night games has Rogers avoided looking like a “tradition killer”. The phasing in of the Rogers deal is genius for them, and a sad end for all Canadian hockey fans..

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