They weren’t always the mega-stories, or the ones that moved the needle or drew thousands of clicks or had the public (a) rapt or (b) rowdy. Some were significant, others were quirky. (If you haven’t figured it out, This Space is quite fond of quirky.)
Whatever the reason, they were interesting enough or important enough in 2021 to earn inclusion on our annual list of 10 Stories That Mattered.
• A mental health break: First it was Naomi Osaka, the No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world, revealing that she’d battled depression since winning the 2018 U.S. Open. Then it was Olympic champion Simone Biles opting out of the team competition and most of the individual events in Tokyo. If mental health issues weren’t top of mind in sports before then, they certainly were afterward.
And those who characterized those and other athletes in their situation as weak had it backward. To step away, and announce why, in those circumstances was even more courageous, and anyone who has actually competed at a high level would understand why. (Biles and her gymnast teammates demonstrated similar quiet courage in another venue, during the Larry Nassar trial.)
• Transformation of college sports? In March, during the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, we were reminded again that the organization’s dedication to the hired help – and particularly its commitment to equal treatment of its men’s and women’s athletes – was, well, paper-thin.…