On the fields, courts, ice rinks, and other venues where competitive sports take place, 2017 was a year of transcendence. Tom Brady proved himself ageless. The Warriors redefined the words super team. The Houston Astros lifted their city’s spirits by winning perhaps the most exciting World Series ever. Meanwhile, the dialogue around sports sunk to the same depths as the dialogue around politics in America.
Instead of continuing its reign America’s most beloved form of corporate entertainment, the NFL became a flashpoint as player protests and the reaction to them among fans (including the one in the White House) illustrated how vast the chasm is between even people who can agree on football. Hypocrisy abounded as it always does in the NCAA, IOC, and at FIFA.
At VICE Sports, we’ve tried to keep up with it all—then take you places the news cycle wouldn’t, like we did with the 16 Project—our ambitious collection of video and written profiles of up and coming athletes who were 16 this year. Here are some of our highlights from the last 12 months:
Michael Pina came onboard at VICE Sports, bringing in depth NBA coverage day in and day out. Over the offseason, he profiled the fascinating Jimmy Butler along with our video team, and now that the season has begun, he’s been writing the NBA’s newest go-to column: the Outlet Pass, a weekly roundup of everything in his obsessively maintained NBA notebook.
Aaron Gordon wrote a literary, empathetic, and massively ambitious profile of Eric Thompson, an Olympic high-jump hopeful whose entire career was derailed by a single five-buck bump of cocaine in high school.
David J. Roth brought us the story of Bong/Puffer baseball’s greatest card on 4/20, and the story of basketball’s greatest song: Roundball Rock from inside the genius mind of John Tesh.
We covered the spread of silent protests during the national anthem both in the NFL and to places far beyond—such as the ones by five college cheerleaders in Kennesaw, Georgia.
We covered the emerging challenges facing trans athletes—such as young wrestler Mack Beggs in Texas, and Calleigh Little, who skateboarded across the country. We went in depth on what it's like to actually transition as an athlete:
Mike Piellucci profiled Kayvon Thibodeaux and Jojuan Collins, a pair of dominant high school football players in Los Angeles whose intertwining paths reflect the changing nature of the sport, and the shifting balance of power from public to private schools.
In 2017, VICE Sports continued its commitment to being a great destination for wrestling coverage. Ian Williams' Bruiseday column took an unsparing, and always eloquent, weekly look at the goings on at WWE and the indies. Meanwhile, Rob Rousseau covered the WWE's whitewashing of the Ultimate Warrior's bigoted legacy.
Patrick Hruby took on NCAA hypocrisy and the way big money college programs use a convenient and invented notion of "amateurism" to shield themselves from having to pay student athletes. But don't worry, there are people (including at HBCUs) on the case.
Brian Blickenstaff wrote about the greatest sibling rivalry in sports history: the one between Puma and Adidas that began with a pair of brothers and divided a small town in Germany forever:
As Fightland evolved into a part of the VICE Sports family, and the fight world gave us one of its biggest and most ridiculous spectacles in the form of Mayweather-Macgregor, Jack Slack continued to provide detailed analysis and awesome historical context.
We were right there with you, day in and day out, as the sports news cycle got shorter and seemingly weirder every single day. In 2017, we had important questions to answer, like which unearthed draft day tweet was better, "kissing titties" or "slangin' wood?" We were blessed with beloved characters like NFL coach who decided to record a video of himself snorting coke. Next year, we can only imagine that we'll be even luckier.