2016 was a memorable, dramatic year.
It also served as a year in sports full of every emotion, demonstrating why people love sports so much and why the emotional ties to it are so strong.
There was happiness. It started in February when Peyton Manning took the field for the last time in Super Bowl 50.
In his 293rd NFL game, Manning walked off the field victorious with his second Super Bowl ring.
For footballs fans who watched Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, it was the perfect ending to his career and they were able to enjoy it.
There was pride. The 2016 Summer Olympics rolled around and it presented people across the world, a chance to cheer on their nation’s best Olympians and root for them to return home with gold medals.
It was meaningful for United States, who watched with pride and togetherness as the U.S. won 121 medals and witnessed swimmer Michael Phelps become the most decorated olympian of all time with 28 total medals.
But the sports world was also hit hard by loss.
These were just a few of dozens of former athletes, both young and old, who the world lost in 2016.
The deaths of sporting legends, from football coach Buddy Ryan and legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, to former boxer Muhammad Ali were painful losses.
But the most impactful for me, the one that brings tears as the words are written, was the death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.
A young man, who risked his life as a teenager to make it from Cuba to the U.S. with his mom. A man who was everything to the Miami community, who played with passion and flair that so resembled the community and people, was lost.
There was sorrow. I never had the pleasure to meet him, but I fell in love with his story when he was drafted out of high school and as time went on, he became my favorite athlete in all of sports.
The loss of an athlete just at the early stages of his career hurt, but the loss of a young man who overcame so much, gave so much and lived with the rare passion for life and all things, was heartbreaking.
His tragic death taught us many things, but most importantly was that we all could live life with a little more passion and joy because we have just this one and it’s too hard to stay anything but happy for too long.
As the year wound down, sports had the moment it needed most.
Joy. In early November, the Chicago Cubs snapped a 108-year drought when they won the World Series in extra innings of Game 7.
For Cubs fans young and old, relief and joy had finally come. The curse of Steve Bartman’s fan interference in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series, was forgotten.
Sports fans in general, had a moment to smile and see a historic streak end, young men and a city celebrate.
2016 brought out the emotions in all of us. Happiness, pride, sorrow, joy and everything in between.
It perfectly captures why we love sports. Like relationships, it takes us through the ups and downs, twists and turns of the emotional rollercoaster and we live for the ride.
Through it all, we remain devoted to sports and all it brings us and brings out of us.
Here is to you 2016, we look forward to sports in 2017.