The past year was certainly a tumultuous one in the world, and sports were no exception. In the United States, the National Football League was at the center of the attention for its players protesting during the national anthem, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, as well as more research related to CTE and brain trauma from playing. Scandal shocked the world of soccer as FIFA prepares for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Despite the negative headlines, there was much to be celebrated, from Roger Federer’s renaissance to an endless list of breathtaking athletic achievements. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most compelling stories and events as told by Culture Trip sports editors Luke Bradshaw and Michael LoRé during 2017.
Roger Federer’s renaissance
Tennis legend Roger Federer proved that like a fine wine, he only gets better with age. At 36 years old, the Swiss star had a renaissance in 2017, winning two Grand Slam titles (Australian Open and Wimbledon).
The sport of the future?
The traditional definition of “athlete” is constantly changing as sports are evolving. That is no more true than in regards to egaming and drone racing. The Drone Racing League has grown exponentially in the past year and continues to do so as we head into 2018.
Lizzie Carr launched a new campaign aimed at cleaning up the United Kingdom’s inland waterways. She paddleboarded the length of the country (643km) in 22 days to help raise awareness; it was quite the feat, especially because just a few years prior, Carr was diagnosed with cancer.
Tiki Barber’s transition
Former NFL player Tiki Barber has remained active since retiring from football in 2006. The New York Giants’ all-time leading rusher is still running; though now he’s focusing on marathons, including the New York City Marathon. Barber spoke about his transition from the gridiron to the streets.
High cost of endurance sport
Athletes are pushing their bodies further and further each day in an effort to accomplish new feats. But at what cost? Unimaginable distances, more extreme conditions, freezing temperatures. Are these endurance races and competitions worth the risk at the moment or in the future?
Women coaching men
Women’s rights are being threatened, questioned, and doubted around the globe, including in the United States since Trump came into office, and there has been an endless list of sexual harassment scandals coming to surface. There are countless female trailblazers in sports, venturing into uncharted territory by coaching the opposite sex.
Representation without FIFA
Padania, Aymará, Chagos Islands, and Pohnpei. Ever hear of them? These nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples, and sports isolated territories are represented by CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations), the football federation for all associations outside FIFA. We look at their struggle for representation and legitimacy on the world stage without the help of soccer’s top governing body.
A surfing paradise
Bali is super bagus. The Indonesian island is a playground for surfers from all walks of life. With countless breaks, beaches, and ideal weather, it doesn’t get much better than surfing in Bali. Volcom pros were there in June and recounted their experience, talking about where the island ranks among the world’s best locales.
Chessboxing is where brains meet brawn
Possibly the ultimate test of physicality and mental fortitude. Chessboxing is exactly what it sounds like; a combination of chess and boxing. The two polar opposite sports are pitted together in this unique competition where athletes face off in the ring, take their gloves off, then meet again on the chessboard.
The strength to carry on
Christopher Saint-Remy was born without a fully formed right leg and prune-belly syndrome, a condition characterized by the partial or total absence of abdominal muscles. That hasn’t stopped him from his No. 1 passion, basketball. The sport has given Saint-Remy the strength to never give up no matter what obstacles are in his way.
What’s driving the Finns?
Finnish drivers have been and are head and shoulders above the rest. But what separates them from the rest of the field? Attribute it to sisu, a cultural construct that, without a direct translation, roughly means ‘strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity’. It is the mental strength that ensures competitors get up after they’ve fallen down without fear of failure, it’s about seeing through things to the very end, and it’s about integrity.
Cycling across the U.S.
Suzette Wanninkhof and her friends cycled 8,000 miles across the United States from Alaska to Florida this year. It wasn’t just for fun or a testament of will and physical prowess; Wanninkhof did it to honor her brother, Patrick, who was killed on a charity bike ride by a distracted driver.
What will unfold in 2018? Only time will tell, but there are certainly a plethora of sporting events like the FIFA World Cup in Russia and new stadiums opening around the world to look forward to. Happy New Year!