The year is coming to a close and publications around the globe are dropping their annual best of lists of anything and everything. Whether it's movies, moments, music, TV, or anything else one could think of, there's a list. In an effort to follow the trend, but also provide a fresh take, we decided to not only shorten our lists from the more conventional ten to five (peak innovation) but also provide five categories within the categories.
The categories are as follows: music, movies, TV, podcasts, and sports moments. Within those five broad categories, our staff has come up with five divisions within the groupings. Here are the five, with a breakdown of the criteria for choosing the winner of each group.
This section is reserved for the things that made us feel in 2016 (hence the name). More than just the warm fuzzy's we were looking for things that captured our attention and reeled in our emotional investment. Nostalgic value, excitement, and a diverse range of feelings were all factors as well.
Every year there are things that slip through the cracks and don't spread to the masses. Our hope here is to compile some of less talked/written about things of 2016.
What are the things you watched/listened to this year that you aren't rushing to bring up at a dinner party? We all have them; it's time to come clean and experience the refreshment of confession. This category is all about mindless, light-hearted, good old fashioned entertainment.
What is art?
If there were a polar opposite of the guilty pleasure, this would be it. This category is reserved for the most challenging, thought-provoking, and abstract pieces of pop culture from this year.
This category is not for the faint of heart. The winners in this category usually, like the what is art group, inspire thought, but they also depict a truth that is particularly difficult to swallow.
Top five, top five, top five...
Nothing quite strikes the feel-good chord in sports like a long afflicted fanbase finally being rewarded with the satisfaction of a title. For Chi-Town, it had been over a century since the Cubbies last brought home a championship. For us Kansas Citians, think about the utter joy and elation the end of a 30 year title drought brought us, multiply that joy by 3.6 (literally, 3.6 x 30 = 108) and that's how good it felt for Cubs fans. As for the Cleveland Cavs faithful, they have been subjected to all sorts heartbreak during their franchises 46-year history. Whether it was the constant bombardment of the frame by frame shot of MJ leaping and fist pumping after sinking a game-winner over Craig Ehlo, LeBron "taking his talents to South Beach", or the emergence of the terror that is Splash City right as LeBron decided to return home, the odds always seemed stacked against them. That all changed when the Warrior blew a 3-1 series lead and LeBron and the gang finally brought a title back to Cleveland. When it comes to the feels, nothing came close to the goosebumps and misty eyes these two titles produced in 2016.
Honorable Mention: Michael Phelps dominance in Rio Olympics
Leicester City Wins English Premiere League
The popularity of the beautiful game has been on the rise for a while now in the states. Thanks to NBC's recent airing of the English Premier League, Americans have had an accessible outlet for soccer fandom beyond the MLS and the World Cup. Like any of the major American pro leagues, the EPL has its herculean spenders (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea), the slightly more frugal bunch (Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton), and then everyone else. Since 1980, only three clubs not listed in the aforementioned seven have won the title. In 2016, colossal underdog, Leicester City sent shockwaves through Europe when they won the league. Considering the fact that league titles in England aren't won through a single elimination playoff system, but instead through a table and point system that resembles the body of work of a team whose gone through a grueling nine-month season, Leicester's title was nothing short of miraculous (not to mention they had only been promoted the premiere league two years prior). To put this in perspective for us Americans, the difference between the highest (Dodgers) and lowest (Astros) payroll in baseball last season was roughly 154 mil. The difference between the payroll of the highest (Chelsea) and Leicester was 204 mil! I repeat 204 mil! Leicester winning the title is beyond historic and is a glowing example of the parity that makes the EPL such a competitive and entertaining league.
Honorable Mention: NBA League Pass (watching the young talent on teams that aren't contenders just yet)
Thursday Night Football
The NFL stumbled out of the blocks with some of its lowest ratings in years. Much has been written and speculated as to why the shift in viewership has taken a blow this season, but one explanation seems most fitting. The game quality has often been subpar and sloppy. Nowhere is this descent in quality more evident than on Thursday Night Football. As it turns out, football is a brutal game that requires more recovery than three days to be at peak performance. Aside from physical recovery, preparation time for a coaching staff takes a considerable hit with the shortened week as well. With players still battered and bruised and coaches rushed to prepare these games have been far from pretty. Does that keep us from watching? Hell no! When it comes to the NFL many of us are robotic, if there is a game on, we must watch. It doesn't matter if it's the Jags/Titans or Browns/Ravens, it's football, and we'll be damned if we're going to miss a snap. The NFL needs to boot the Thursday Night games (for the sake of the player's safety and our sanity) but until they do we'll be watching and refreshing our fantasy football score all the way til the clock reads zero.
Honorable Mention: Odd sports in the summer Olympics (e.g.-badminton, handball, table tennis, trampoline, etc.)
What is art?
Can you imagine what it would've been like to be John Brenkus, host of ESPN's futile attempt at fusing the world of science and sports, "Sports Science" when this block happened? He must have been foaming at the mouth. This was the logic defying moment he had been waiting his whole life to dissect with confusing scientific facts and unsuccessful everyday equivalents (He and ESPN actually did this if you're wondering. The crescendo of this one was when he compared the speed of LeBron's block to the rate at which the cork of a champagne bottle exits upon popping). Regardless of how absurd the Sports Science breakdown of the block might have been, this world shattering chase-down swat was one of the most glorious moments I've ever seen in sports. The grace and fury with which LeBron chases down Iggy, the stakes of the moment, the glass pinning culmination of LeBron bringing a title back to Cleveland is symphonic in its beauty. In fact, I even searched for a video of the play over the sound of Mozart but with no avail. I had to settle for this, which shows LeBron's masterpiece from every angle. Enjoy...
Honorable Mention: The final play and shot by Villanova in the National Championship Game
Broncos Win the Super Bowl
Watching Peyton ride the coattails of an admittedly amazing defense to a Super Bowl win and eventually share this vulnerable embrace with Papa John was almost too much to bear.
For many years, thousands of fans have loyally stuck with our Chiefs and been subjected to the unnerving success of the Broncos (only slightly less hated than Oakland). First, it was Elway, riding off into the sunset after back to back Super Bowls, but now Peyton Manning? I just couldn't help but look away.
Thankfully, our Chiefs took a huge step in the right direction by notching their first playoff victory in over 20 years. It was no Super Bowl, at least not yet anyways but as I sat and reflected on the darkness that was enduring another Broncos Super Bowl run I was reminded of the wise words of one Harvey Dent from the Dark Knight,
"The night is darkest just before the dawn...(dramatic pause) and I promise you, the dawn is coming." - Harvey Dent
It's these words that carried me through and today the dawn has arrived. We smashed Denver on Christmas night and ended their playoff hopes for 2017. We're playing this Sunday for the chance of two seed in the postseason and hopes to take yet another step toward Super Bowl glory.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant leaving OKC for the team that had knocked him out of the playoffs