It may be difficult to remember, but a lot has happened in sports in the past four years. Here are some of the largest stories of the past four years and some of the important changes since 2014.
No team has been more dominant in the past four years than the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. The Huskies won national championships from 2013 through 2016, and they have not lost a regular season game since November 2014.
Also in 2014, Steve Kerr became head coach of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have dominated the NBA ever since, led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. No free agent signing in the past four years has been as large and as scrutinized as Kevin Durant’s deal with the Warriors. Even still, Golden State has broken several records, won two championships, and is on a path to another.
The New England Patriots’ dynasty continued, with several new storylines. The Patriots added another three Super Bowl appearances, two of which were wins, and all of which were among the closest Super Bowls of all time. But Deflategate cast further doubt on their success and the legacy of Tom Brady, and the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory stoked the flames of the Brady versus Peyton Manning debate.
Additionally, several famous records were broken. The Chicago Cubs won a World Series after a century-long drought. The Triple Crown of horse racing was won for the first time in over 35 years, this time by American Pharoah.
Many much-awaited sporting events also took place. Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated Manny Pacquiao and then Conor McGregor to end his career 50–0. The College Football Playoff system was implemented.
We saw the retirements of Alex Rodriguez, Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Kobe Bryant, Abby Wambach, and Martin Brodeur, to name a few. We also saw the meteoric rise of Simone Biles, Mikaela Shiffrin, Connor McDavid, Aaron Judge, and Katie Ledecky.
Several athletes became known more for their issues off the field than their success in their sport. Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his jail cell while on trial for a double murder after being acquitted for another murder. Ryan Lochte and other American swimmers lied about their actions at a Rio gas station during the 2016 Olympics. Following Ray Rice’s release in 2014, several NFL players have been accused of domestic abuse. Also, Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boat accident.
Other scandals rocked the sports world on an international stage. Several FIFA officials, including FIFA President Sepp Blatter, were arrested or removed from their positions due to a large-scale corruption issue. Russia was banned from the Pyeongchang Olympics for state-sponsored doping.
However, the larger issues seemed to dominate the coverage of sports. Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life for racially insensitive comments. Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality, and he remains unsigned. Michael Sam became the first openly gay NFL player, but only as part of a questionable deal between Roger Goodell and the Rams.
Sports have generated so many intriguing stories in the past four years, and I have barely even scratched the surface of all of the things which have happened in the world of sports. Records and streaks were broken, new stars replaced old ones, and scandals pushed leagues closer to change. Changes in sports leagues or athletes sometimes reflected changes in society, but it seemed like sports increasingly was the platform for change in much of society.