Sports Roundup 2020
By Scott Murphy
The athlete of the year, the first ever female and Chinese player to score in US football games, soccer championship results, Olympic news and more…
LeBron James: Athlete Of The Year
In an NBA basketball year overshadowed by COVID and the loss of legend Kobe Bryant, LeBron James’ performance this year brought hope to many. Hence, Time Magazine has named the 35 year old “Athlete of the Year”.
James led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 17th NBA championship title during a shortened season, winning an MVP award in the process. It was his fourth title and fourth MVP award. In the process, he has now become the first player in history to win the title with three different teams. Off the court, he also made inroads by speaking out against racial injustice and promoting voter registration. “Not only is he the best player,” tennis player Naomi Osaka told Time, “but he has the most powerful voice.”
The Columbus Crew Reign Supreme
The Columbus Crew SC beat the Seattle Sounders this month 3-0 at Mapfre Stadium in Ohio to win their second ever Major League Soccer Cup. Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan, considered to be the league’s “Newcomer of the year”, scored two goals for the champs.
The team’s feat was all the more remarkable considering that two Columbus players missed the match after testing positive for Covid-19. MLS had stopped its season in March due to the pandemic, and resumed play in July.
One Win For Russia?
The Swiss based Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that Russia will not be able to use its name, flag or anthem at the next two Olympics or at any world championships for the next two years.
The ruling stems from a case that accused Russia of state-ordered tampering at a testing laboratory database in Moscow. It also means that Russia cannot host any major sporting events for two years as well. However, Russian athletes and teams will still be able to compete at the Tokyo Olympics and other world championships. It’s been suggested that “One win for Russia” will be their team name at such events.
Even though her team lost 42-17, Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller emerged as a hero when she made two successful extra points against Tennessee. Her feat meant that she became the first woman in an NCAA Division 1 “Power Five” men’s US football game to ever score.
As a result, one ball went to her, the other will end up in the College Football Hall of Fame. Fuller is also a star goalie for the women’s championship soccer team.
On the other side of the country, Jackson He made his own mark when he scored a touchdown on a one yard run during a college game between Arizona State and Arizona. That feat meant that he became the first ever Chinese-born player to score in a major US college game. Though his team’s victory was never in doubt as they won 70-7, He’s achievement is still being felt, as he received congratulatory messages from around the globe.
And on Sunday, the NFL’s oldest RB (Frank Gore, 37) and oldest WR (Larry Fitzgerald, 37) both scored touchdowns. It’s the first time in NFL history a running back and wide receiver, both at least 37 years old, scored touchdowns in the same week.
In related college football news, COVID is still making its presence felt, as several teams cancelled games this past weekend and one team, Washington (Oregon), even went so far as to cancel its final game and pull out of any Bowl Game consideration due to the virus.
NHL Makes 2021 Season Announcement
The National Hockey League and its players have officially reached a deal to have a 56 game season in 2021 which will begin on January 13th. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are scheduled to begin on May 8th and will last into July.
There are some unique facets of the new season, however. Teams will only play other opponents in their division during the regular season. That also means that there will be a new all-Canadian division, now called the North. COVID protocols will also be in place. The Tampa Bay Lightning will make a bid to defend their title.
Major League Baseball 2021 And Back!
Major League Baseball have released its 2021 Major League regular season schedule, which will begin with all 30 Major League clubs playing on April 1st, 2021. The 2021 season will mark the fourth consecutive season in which all 30 teams are scheduled to play on traditional Opening Day.
Opening Day of the 2021 campaign could also become the first season since 1968 in which every team across the league plays their first game of the season on the same day. The Los Angeles Dodgers, with the largest payroll in the League, will try to defend their championship title.
Rugby Sevens: The Good and the Bad
It’s been announced that the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series won’t return to a full schedule until 2022 due to COVID precautions, but the events in Singapore and Hong Kong are slated to return in 2021.
Two men’s events scheduled for April in those cities have been moved to October and November, respectively. Scheduling for other men and women’s events will be decided early next year.
One Of The World’s Best Horses?
Hong Kong horse Golden Sixty stormed past an international field to claim the HK$25 million G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile on December 13th. The two length win marked the horse’s 11th straight triumph, making the racing world sit up and take notice on the city’s biggest racing day of the year. “He’s the best horse in Hong Kong at the moment,” said jockey Vincent Ho.
Ireland’s Mogul won the Longines Hong Kong vase while Japanese racers Danon Smash and Normcore raced to victory during the Longines Hong Kong Sprint and Longines Hong Kong Cup. Eight year old Hong Kong horse Beauty Generation was retired after his fifth place finish. Once the highest rated horse in the city of all-time, his illustrious career ends with 18 wins and over $HK100 million in prize money. The event at the city’s Shatin race course was held under strict COVID related quarantine guidelines.