The Most Memorable Sports Moments of 2021

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In some ways, 2021 might have felt a bit like a reboot of 2020, but there were so many moments to be excited about. Let's look back before diving headfirst into 2022.1. The college sports landscape changed forever with the July ruling that allowed athletes to be paid for their name, image and likeness (NIL). Athletes like the Cavinder twins who play women's basketball at Fresno State were the first to take advantage of the ruling. Some athletes like Michigan running back Blake Corum and Iowa lineman Tyler Linderbaum used their NIL money to benefit a good cause, not just their wallets. 2. Mental health became a dinner table topic thanks to athletes like Simone Biles (gymnastics), Naomi Osaka (tennis) and Lane Johnson (NFL). Johnson took a leave from the Philadelphia Eagles to face his battle with depression head-on. Osaka withdrew from the French Open and Wimbledon to focus on her well-being. But the world saw just how the pressure impacted an athlete when Simone Biles battled the "twisties" in the Summer Olympics. She put her safety and her team first, withdrawing from the women's gymnastics all-around competition. 3. Sports fans continued to realize what so many already knew, women's sports are the place to be. Not only did viewer ratings soar for the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association), women's college basketball championship game and the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League), but we saw the first college softball game on a major national network. The NFL and MLB (Major League Baseball) added more female coaches and front-office executives. In 2022, look for the women's college basketball tournament to use the coveted "March Madness" title for the first time. 4. The year brought us athletes who seem to get better with age. Tom Brady won the Super Bowl with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL – National Football League), in February at age 43. (And then celebrated with maybe one too many shots at the championship boat parade). At 46, Helio Castroneves won the Indy 500, and Phil Mickelson showed off his impressive 50-year-old calves on his way to a PGA (Professional Golfers Association) Championship win. 5. The delayed 2020 Summer Olympics gave the world the positivity and excitement we'd all been missing. COVID precautions meant athletes' families had to watch from the comfort of their couches, too, but the stories of athletes like Caeleb Dressel, Suni Lee and Katie Ledecky all brought us to our feet. The US topped the medal count with 113 total medals, 39 gold, including one from the US Men's Basketball Team, who continued their medal streak. Bonus: If you’re a fan of F1 (Formula One) Racing, then you likely caught the race of the century when Max Verstappen beat out seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton for the 2021 championship. But did you know that Hamilton, the only Black F1 driver, is also a fan of fashion? He purchased a table at the Met Gala, which runs around $275,000, and filled it with three emerging Black designers to grow their reach.

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