- Penn State Scandal
- NBA lockout
- NFL lockout
- St Louis miraculous game 6 in the World Series
- Aaron Rodgers and the Packer's Perfect (So Far) 2011
- Dirk Nowitzki's NBA title at the big three's expense
- Bruins win first Stanley Cup since 1972
- U.S. women just miss world cup
- VCU makes the final four
- Johnson's reign ends with best NASCAR race ever
I have some minor issues and a few omissions that I would like to point out.
Pack not deserving yet
First, congratulations to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. They seem to be on their way to another Superbowl. However, I don't believe that they deserve to be on this list yet. Since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 seven teams have started the season 12-0 (2011 packers, 2009 colts, 2009 saints, 2007 pats, 1998 broncos, 1985 bears, and 1972 dolphins). If you consider the previous forty years (not including 2011) the chances of at least one team going 12-0 are 15% and if you only consider the last five seasons the chances are 60%.
The mirror image of the Pack is the Indianapolis Colts who are currently 0-12. Also not much of a statistical abnormality, it turns out. The data for this are harder to get, but it seems that starting 0-12 is just as common and possibly even more so, as these data may not be complete. From various sources I found seven teams that started the season 0-12 since 1970 (2011 colts, 2008 lions, 2007 dolphins, 1986 colts, 1980 saints, 1977 bucs, 1976 bucs).
The real statistically rare event would be to have one team go undefeated and another go winless in the same season. This has never happened. And some armchair (probably incorrect) calculations suggest to me that the compound probability of this happening is somewhere between .000625% and .00125% -- depending on whether you include the 1976 bucs who didn't win a game but only played 14 games (the NFL switched to a 16 game schedule in 1978). Now that would deserve a mention as one of the biggest sports stories of the year.
Slater gets no respect
Listen. I know that surfboarding is definitely a niche sport. In fact, many sports fans categorize it in that sports "gray area," it is clearly an athletic activity, but there isn't a consensus on whether it qualifies as a "sport." However, no one can deny the Kelly Slater (much like other "gray area" figures Lance Armstrong and Shaun White) truly dominates his sport. This year, at the age of 39, won his 11th ASP surfing title. He holds the record for most titles and has the record for being both the youngest and oldest title holder. He also gets brownie points for being a good sport. In his most recent championship when the ASP gave Slater his 11th title, he purportedly discovered an error in their calculations and reported it to them, effectively giving up the premature title, only to win it back later.
Whew, no Tebow
I was clicking through the links expecting to see something about Tim Tebow and was pleasantly surprised that he hasn't made the list yet. Tebow clearly garners more than his fair share of media attention and his presence -- like it or not -- has coincided with a resurgence in the Broncos. Perhaps no other modern athlete has had such a polarizing effect on sports fans. Regardless of which Tebow "camp" you fall into, you have to admit that all this hoopla is premature. He hasn't started an entire NFL season yet and we won't really know the results of the Tebow experiment until we have 2-3 seasons to judge. I don't even think a Bronco's playoff birth merits a mention on this list. A playoff win, on the other hand, just might.
Smarty Nation, I would love to hear your thoughts. Sound off in the comments about my analyses and recommended additions. Are there any sports stories you feel should or shouldn't be on the list?