2014 was an interesting year for sports: there were groundbreaking decisions made in collegiate sports and professional basketball, year long stories in professional football, and historic punishments in baseball that rocked the sports world. These are the top five stories that completely took over the news for weeks and sparked nation-wide debate among sports fans.
5. Northwestern Votes to Unionize
Northwestern University student athletes started making waves in January about creating a union. The Federal Labor Relations Board agreed with the football players, saying that they were employees of the university and could vote in a union election in March. While the ruling did not mean that the players would be able to unionize, but it did pave the way for them to vote. The vote took place on April 26th with Kain Colter, a former Northwestern Quarterback leading the charge to unionize. The players cast their vote in secret and the results are still yet to be known. No matter the outcome of the vote, the Northwestern University football players made large strides for college athletes in regards to getting paid for their efforts in collegiate sports.
4. A-Rod 162 Game Suspension
Alex Rodriguez made headlines in 2014 when he was suspended for 162 games, essentially an entire season, in a league drug investigation that led to numerous players including Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. A-Rod was the only player to be banned for the entire season because A-Rod has had multiple drug related offenses, so the league decided that he needed to pay the ultimate price of missing an entire season. A-Rod plans to return to baseball in 2015, and we’ll see how having a whole year off has affected the third baseman.
3. LeBron James Coming Home
We all remember ‘The Decision’ an hour-long special on ESPN in which LeBron James announced that he would be taking his talents to Miami. After winning two championships with the Heat and appearing in four consecutive trips to the finals, James decided to opt out of his contract with the heat and return home to Cleveland. Cleveland Cavalier fans that once burned James’ Cavalier jersey welcomed the small forward home. James’ debut season with the team that drafted him hasn’t been going according to plan with the team currently at 18-13, but who knows what 2015 has in store for the also to make headlines LeBron James.
2. Michael Sam Gets Drafted
Michael Sam first made headlines in college when he did an interview announcing that he was gay. Sam became the first openly gay college athlete to declare for the draft. The SEC Co-Defensive player of the year ended up going in the 7th round to the St. Louis Rams and made headlines again by sharing a kiss with his significant other after getting the call he had been drafted. Sam would then go on to be cut from the Rams’ practice squad and head up on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad where he was ultimately cut.
1. Ray Rice/NFL Domestic Violence Debacle
By this point, everyone has seen the video of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious wife from an Atlantic City elevator. Rice was originally suspended for only two games by commissioner Roger Goodell. Critics were outraged by the whole case when details emerged that Goodell met with both Rice and his wife at the same time. When the video of Rice hitting his wife Janay in the elevator went viral, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely. Because of the Ray Rice incident, the league has changed their discipline policy, stripping Goodell of his powers to be judge and jury allowing him only the right to hear appeals. More players have been arrested for domestic violence charges and even Adrian Peterson found himself in trouble, keeping the NFL in the headlines all year round (and not for what happened on the field).
It sure has been a crazy year in sports, so as 2014 comes to a close we look forward to what 2015 has in store for us.
Happy New Year from First Down Fashionista!