10 Recent 'Say It Ain't So!' Moments in Sports
Usain Bolt lost a gold medal? He can no longer claim three straight Olympic golds in three events? And it's all because of a former teammate's positive doping test? Say it ain't so!
Sad things happen in sports (as in life, obviously) all the time. Today, it's not so much about the seriously sad stuff—Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr's season-ending injury, for example—but instead, it's about the lighter side.
Retirements, relocations and very sad gold-medal disqualifications—here are 10 things that have happened in sports recently to make folks say, "Say it ain't so!"
Novak Djokovic's Slump Continues at Australian Open
Is Novak Djokovic's slump more than a slump?
Even if not, the thought of the Serbian powerhouse on the decline is a real bummer.
Djokovic achieved the career Grand Slam in 2016, holding all four major tournament titles at once. He faltered in the second half of the season, however, going out in the third round of Wimbledon and the first round of the Olympic tournament. By year's end, he had relinquished the world No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray.
Djokovic was hopeful to start 2017, however, calling a win over Murray in January's Qatar ExxonMobil Open final the "best scenario I could ask for at the beginning of the season," per atpworldtour.com.
And yet, the No. 117 player in the world, Denis Istomin, beat him in the second round of the Australian Open less than two weeks later.
Odds are, this is not the end for one of the game's greats. But it's not great, either.
Celtics Jersey Ads
So, the jersey sponsorship thing is not exactly new. In fact, news broke in April the NBA would become the first of the four major American sports leagues to allow ad sales on jerseys.
It has, however, become a lot more real as of late. The Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings have already announced jersey sponsorship deals, and in late January, the Boston Celtics joined them. Boston announced a new partnership with General Electric and provided a jersey mockup depicting the logo placement.
This is something likely to irk lovers of sports tradition.
Celtics center Al Horford said, per Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, "We're lucky to be in this position, playing in this league. I just hope we don't get it covered with the 20 logos like the international teams do. Hopefully, we won't get 20. Then you won’t understand that the Celtics are there."
Brent Musburger Retiring
ESPN broadcaster Brent Musburger will retire after calling his last game on January 31, a Kentucky vs. Georgia college basketball matchup.
The 77-year-old has been in the business—first with CBS and later with ABC and ESPN—for decades. He has called everything from NBA games to golf tournaments over the years, and his voice will be missed. Just ask Twitter.
ESPN president John Skipper said, per ESPN.com, "Brent's presence and delivery have come to symbolize big time sports for multiple generations of fans. When he opens with his signature 'You are looking live,' you sit up straight in your chair because you know something important is about to happen."
Per the Associated Press, "Both Musburger and ESPN say comments about Oklahoma football player Joe Mixon that were criticized as insensitive during the Sugar Bowl earlier this month had nothing to do with his exit. "
Vince Wilfork and Larry Fitzgerald Considering Retirement
Sometimes, retirement rumors are as sad as the real thing, particularly when they involve likable athletes like Houston Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
The 35-year-old Wilfork said after a playoff loss to the New England Patriots in January, "I think I'll take my time and think about it, but I think I've played my last NFL football game," per Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe.
From Wilfork's hilarious personality to Fitzgerald's all-class demeanor, these two would surely be missed across the NFL.
Chargers to Los Angeles
There have been two big "say it ain't so!" moments in NFL relocation news lately.
First up, the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers announced a move to Los Angeles in mid-January.
The announcement comes on the heels of a new stadium proposal that was rejected by San Diego taxpayers. The Chargers attempted to move to L.A. for the 2016 season, but that right went to the Los Angeles Rams instead. The Chargers were given a one-year window of opportunity to join the Rams, and chairman Dean Spanos jumped on it.
Relocations are a complicated business, but it's hard not to feel for the folks in San Diego on this one.
Chargers fan Susan Wiczynski wrote to Andrew Kleske of the San Diego Union-Tribune, "We'll still cheer the Bolts from our armchairs in our beautiful city, and Spanos can go sit (and sit and sit) on the 405 and congratulate himself for showing us who's boss."
Raiders to Las Vegas?
Second, the Oakland Raiders might actually be making a move to Las Vegas.
It's hard not to root for Oakland—a gritty fanbase already dealing with the loss of its beloved Golden State Warriors.
Now, after an effort led by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott gave Oakland fans hope, it looks like the Raiders might be on the way to Las Vegas after all.
The team filed relocation paperwork in January, and NFL owners can vote on the move as early as March.
Mark Purdy of the Mercury News wrote, "Yes, this stinks. Yes, the Bay Area fans who have been loyal to the Raiders are getting a raw deal. Yes, it’s poignant to see some of those fans start petitions or hold jersey-burning protests."
World Cup to 48 Teams
In early January, FIFA announced the 2026 World Cup would expand from 32 to 48 teams.
Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said, per James Masters and Chris Murphy of CNN.com, "The expansion means that the World Cup will be even more of an incredible social event. More countries, more investment in different countries in infrastructure, in youth football."
And yet, it would make sense to wonder how this will affect competitiveness and entertainment value. ESPNFC's Nick Miller wrote, "It's an elite competition, and if you add more teams, you dilute its quality."
The European Club Association, which represents 220 clubs, was among public detractors of expansion, citing an already packed schedule of matches.
Opinions were varied, certainly, but more than a few fans from around the world expressed distaste for the change, according to a collection of reactions from Tom Stevens of the Guardian.
Russell Westbrook Not an All-Star Starter
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will not start alongside former teammate Kevin Durant in the NBA All-Star Game? Man, that would have been fun.
Westbrook—despite averaging a triple-double and leading the league in points per game—did not get the starting nod when all the fan, media and player votes were tallied.
Guards Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and James Harden of the Houston Rockets beat him out for starting spots despite inferior stats (as of January 24):
- Westbrook: 30.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game
- Curry: 24.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists per game
- Harden: 28.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 11.6 assists per game
NHL Possibly Forgoing Olympics
OK—this one is not a done deal yet. However, even the possibility of the NHL forgoing participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics is sad.
The PyeongChang Games would fall in the middle of the NHL season, and league deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, per Jonas Siegel of the Canadian Press (via CBC Sports), "There has to be a compelling reason for us to go to the Olympics at this point, and as I stand here now, we're still searching for that reason."
No deadline for a decision has been given, but the NHL is currently working on two schedules for the 2017-18 season, one that assumes Olympic participation and one that does not.
T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals said, per Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post, "One hundred percent, we should be there. I think it's just important for hockey."
Indeed, the Winter Olympics without NHL players? Say it ain't so! Hopefully, it's not.
Usain Bolt Loses His Triple-Triple
Usain Bolt has mesmerized the world for the better part of a decade. The undisputed world's fastest human, the Jamaican sprinter took gold in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4x100-meter events in three straight Olympics. A triple-triple, if you will.
Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee announced in late January Bolt will have to return the gold medal from the 4x100-meter relay event at the 2008 Games in Beijing. Bolt's then-teammate Nesta Carter was disqualified after a reanalysis of his sample tested positive for a banned substance, methylhexaneamine.
Per the IOC statement, "The Jamaican team is disqualified from the men's 4x100-meter relay event. The corresponding medals, medallist pins and diplomas are withdrawn and shall be returned."
That includes Bolt's. Sad.