December 01, 2009
Yahoo! Sports Blogs cover almost everything under the sun, from football (Shutdown Corner) to tennis (Busted Racquet) to the Olympics (Fourth-Place Medal). In the past few weeks, those blogs have run decade retrospectives, listing the top 10 things in various sport-specific categories. But because we don't have dedicated blogs for every sport, a few major stories slipped through the cracks. Of those, here are the ten biggest of the decade:
10. Leagues go into TV business: In the 2000s, each of the four major sports league started its own television network. Results have been middling, at best (although the MLB Network instantly became the crown jewel of cable sports).
9. Bode Miller makes history: More known Stateside for his brash behavior and Olympic failures, skier Bode Miller is actually pretty darn good. In 2005, he became the first American to win the World Cup since 1983.
8. Lance's comeback: Lance Armstrong returned to cycling in 2009, four years after his last Tour de France. He finished third and plans to ride into the next decade, when he'll once again lead his own team.
7. Pro sports go international: Ichiro, Yao, Dirk: Their names are as (almost) as familiar as Jeter, LeBron and Kobe. Ten years ago that might have been unheard of. Now three of the four major American sports can be considered international games.
6. Barbaro: After winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby, Barbaro came up lame in the Preakness and had to be euthanized. What followed was a media onslaught, some overwrought grief, some valid questions about the ethics of horse racing.
5. Michael Phelps gets caught red-handed: It's hard to believe that such a fuss was made about a 23-year old using recreational drugs, but it was a slow news week and cable networks and blogs had to talk about something.
4. Funny Cide runs for the Triple Crown: Of the four horses this decade to win the first two legs of horse racing's triple crown (War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones and Big Brown), none captured the public's fascination as did Funny Cide. The story was just as much about the childhood friends who pooled money to buy the horse than it was the Cinderella story of the thoroughbred.
3. Duke lacrosse players falsely accused: It showed everything that was wrong with the media. In a rush to create a race-based narrative of entitlement and wealth, the press followed the lead to Durham DA Mike Nifong and got caught up in the mob rush to vilify three Duke lacrosse players wrongly accused of rape. They were later cleared when prosecutors determined the accuser made up the whole thing.
2. Pat Tillman killed in Afghanistan: As I wrote last month in a post about great athlete-veterans throughout history: Myth and reality have always conflicted in the retelling of Pat Tillman's story, but this much is certain: After 9/11, Tillman derailed a promising NFL career in order to join the U.S. Army Rangers. He lost his life in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004 and became the embodiment of what true sacrifice looks like.
1. Lance Armstrong win his seventh straight Tour de France: The streak began 1999, ended in 2005 and never seemed to be in doubt in between. Coming back from testicular cancer, Armstrong became the most prolific champion in Tour history. His greatest achievement, though, was the inspiration he provided to those with cancer and the millions he and his foundation helped raise to fight the disease.