As we near the end of 2010 here at Matador Sports, it’s time to round up the more poignant moments in international sports this year. Below are some of the ones that both visually and emotionally struck us.
1. Tiger Woods, Golfer, Spokesperson, Philanderer Rarely if ever do you find a golf-related story on mSports, but we would be remiss to omit one of the more shocking sports stories from this past February: The sex scandal involving an adulterous media darling, several porn stars and many lost sponsors. We may not care for golf, but we do love drama.
2. South Africa's FIFA World Cup As the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup, over 500 million sets of eyes were focused on South Africa in June. There was controversy over the building of stadiums around townships whose residents couldn't afford tickets, as well as security issues and questions about possible food shortages. Regardless of where you stood on these issues, the final game between three-time finalists the Netherlands and the winner Spain was most watched soccer game in history and gave South Africa some well-deserved legitimacy in an often Euro- and South American-centric series.
3. Andy Irons, R.I.P. One of the biggest losses this year took place not on the field or in the water but in a Dallas hotel room this November, where triple world champion surfer Andy Irons' body was found. Speculation remains about Irons' cause of death, but no one--including his biggest rival Kelly Slater--doubts the void left in the surfing community by his passing.
4. India's Problematic Commonwealth Games Even after investing $6 billion into the construction of a facility that would supposedly benefit October's Commonwealth Games, problems abounded in Delhi, including cases of waterborne illnesses and the collapse of a pedestrian bridge. Despite its initial problems, including the boycott by some athletes concerned about sanitation, security, and occasionally-aggressive monkeys, the opening ceremony went off without a hitch, a good start to a generally seamless event.
Image: Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, by upindetv
5. The Sweetness of the Saints' Superbowl Victory In February, the oft-maligned New Orleans Saints won their first Superbowl, kicking off wild celebrations in the home of America's biggest carnival. For a city that spent a good chunk of the last decade being kicked around by nature, it was a pretty sweet triumph.
Image: Celebrating the Saints' Superbowl, by derek b
6. Cricket's Spot-Fixing Scandal As if the country's flooding this year was not enough, the reputations of Pakistan's cricket team was marred in August when a top sports agent was arrested for allegedly bribing team members Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir, and Salman Butt to throw certain plays during a an England-Pakistan test match. The International Cricket Council temporarily suspended the three players pending more investigation, although the players maintain their innocence.
7. Canada Owns Hockey at the Vancouver Olympics In arguably the best hockey game every played, at almost 8 minutes into overtime, 23-year-old Sid "the Kid" Crosby made the gold medal play in the final game of the Vancouver Olympics. Canada's umbilical connection to the sport was sealed in March, and there was no better place for it than on its home turf.
8. LeBron the Defector There are times when fans turn on a player, and they're rarely pretty. LeBron James' choice to sign with the Miami Heat, thus defecting from his original Cleveland Cavaliers in July, was one of those moments. The level of Cleveland's anger was almost unprecedented.
9. Tour de Dope Following allegations made by former teammate Floyd Landis about alleged use of performance enhancers, Lance Armstrong and the cycling world came under a lot of scrutiny this July. Anti-doping measures--which some people said were too extreme--even led to the dethroning of 2010's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, who tested positive for trace amounts of the drug clenbuterol.
10. Shaun White Double McTwists in Vancouver In February, Olympic gold medalist and fire-topped snowboarder Shaun White pulled one of the hardest tricks in the sport. It was not to win the gold medal, but as a victory leap to make the point that he was, in fact, the best--although it's hard to hate the guy considering that he seems to be a genuinely nice person.
Image: Snowboarder Shaun White in Park City, Utah, by hypergene