NORMAN — The past 12 months have went by rather fast. However, jam-packed into those 365 days were some of the most unique, sad and interesting sports stories many of us have ever seen.
My top-8 list have stories that got a lot of attention, while others went under the radar. Regardless which category they fall into, they helped shape 2011.
8. Lockout City: In an unprecedented move, both the NFL and NBA endured lockouts in the same year. The NFL, the most prosperous of all sports league, was smart enough to make a deal without losing any games. The NBA was not.
7. Change of scenery: Conference realignment has changed the way college athletics will look for the foreseeable future. Boise State is now in the Big East, while Missouri is now a member of the SEC. Those are just a couple of examples of how location is no longer a prerequisite to being in a certain conference.
The Big 12 was almost broken up as universities went looking for more money and television revenue. There is no guarantee it wont happen again next year or the year after that. As long as their is a chance to make more money, school presidents are going to listen.
6. Smokin’ Joe shuts it down: He was best known for being Muhammad Ali’s foil in the greatest trilogy in the history of sports. But Joe Frazier struggled his entire adult life to prove he was more than that. Because Ali had become an icon, the world needed Frazier to be a villain. In reality he was anything but that. But he could never escape Ali’s shadow or the demons he carried with him from the taunts and insults he took from the now beloved Ali and his fans.
The 67-year old Frazier died in November after a brief battle with cancer.