Biggest takeaways from sports in 2017

By Adam Przeslak, sports editor.

There was a lot going on in 2017, some good and some bad, but it may have been pretty easy to skip over what was going on in the sporting world. Here are a couple of things you may have missed last year.

 

Some company at the bottom

The Detroit Lions are no longer the only team in NFL history to record a winless season since the introduction of 16-game-long seasons. The Cleveland Browns joined the 0-16 club during the 2017-18 NFL season and left it suspenseful for Lions’ faithful. Their final regular season game was on Dec. 31 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom the Browns contended with until the very end when they lost 28-24.

Despite a disappointing season for the Lions that ended with them being one win away from a wildcard birth into the postseason, at least they rejoiced in knowing they have company in the 0-16 club. If there are any Browns fans out there looking for any positives to grab ahold of during this time of need, at least they went undefeated in the preseason. If only the NFL handed out awards for the preseason, huh?

 

NFL: Play the game and shut up

Athletes are some of the most prominent and influential popular culture figures in today’s society. They often take to a field, a court, an ice rink or some sort of stage to perform at the most competitive level in their field – pun unintended – and risk their health and wellbeing for our enjoyment. Thousands of fans flock into stadiums across the country every Sunday of the NFL season to see their favorite teams play whether there is rain, snow, shine or some combination of the three.

Yet, this is what really amazes me; they are expected by some fans, owners and sports commenters to keep their mouths shut about everything except their sport. These people are paid to be personalities. They’re encouraged to do touchdown celebrations, give postgame press conferences and live out their life in front of a camera but are supposed to be forbidden from speaking about social, political and cultural problems plaguing our country. Many fans expressed their views as the NFL player protests during the playing of the national anthem continued last year. You know which fans were not supportive of the protests because they most certainly let you know by commenting on every NFL-related social media post that they were boycotting football until the flag was once again respected.

Despite Colin Kaepernick, the player who started the protest in 2016, making the purpose and goal of the movement well known from the very beginning there has still been droves of upset Americans claiming that it’s all a disrespectful notion meant to demean the flag, our country and the armed forces. In reality, this movement has always been and still remains focused on police brutality and relations between the police and minorities, specifically African Americans. I think this movement has really brought a lot of good conversations up about race relations in our country, but I don’t think that we’re anywhere close to resolving the issues at hand.

Some team owners urged the league to put a stop to the widespread protests by force although nothing ever happened. The anti-protesting owners’ movement can be summarized by two actions that occured last year. One was by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that involved him locking arms with his players following a controversial weekend tweetstorm from President Trump about the protests. Jones knelt with his players before the playing of the national anthem but then stood and asked his players to stand, during the actual national anthem.

I feel that Jones only did the kneeling beforehand because he’d have a mutiny on his hands if he didn’t do something. He followed up these actions of solidarity by then urgently requesting the league do something with the “out of hand” protests and claiming he’d sit any player that knelt there after.

The second action that sums this all up is when Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said in an owner’s meeting that “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

McNair misquoted the old idiom “the inmates are running the asylum.” Sure, we’re humans and we all make mistakes, but this sort of screw-up doesn’t come without repercussions; especially when a discussion walking a fine line about race relations turns into calling a group of mainly African American football players “inmates” that are running a “prison”.

 

Mayweather v. McGregor

Last year was a big year for boxing, a sport that has been routinely dropping out of the public eye for decades now. Mixed martial arts, spearheaded by the UFC, has been nailing the coffin of the sport of boxing for what has seemed like a decade now. But when Conor McGregor, one of the biggest faces of the UFC and MMA today, decided to step into a boxing ring to challenge the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. he unknowingly rekindled the flame of a dying sport.

McGregor actually put up a good fight for having never professionally boxed before. Mayweather would come out on top, as was expected, but thanks to his and McGregor’s efforts I think that boxing has been introduced to an entirely new, younger audience. However, the sport still faces an issue surrounding pay-per-views and the amount of money charged to simply see a lineup of boxing matches. I think more people watched the McGregor-Mayweather fight illegally than legally.

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