2020 is finally over! It wasn’t an easy year for any of us, but we can finally look forward to a more optimistic 2021. Something else that wasn’t easy was selecting the sports highlights that best tell the story of 2020.
Despite the nearly two month sports hiatus there’s still so much action to get through. From moments of brilliance, to the world events that shaped this past year, there were so many other sports highlights that could have made the cut, but here’s what did… Enjoy!
Devastating bush fires in Australia impacted the early stages of the Australia Open with a blanket of smoke haze causing the air quality in Melbourne to be labeled as the worst in the world. Luckily for tennis fans the majority of the rest of the tournament was largely unaffected and we saw players throughout the tournament raising enormous amounts of money to aid those affected by the fires.
Defending champ Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the semi finals to secure a place in the final, where he beat Austrian star Dominic Thiem, in an epic battle lasting for four hours, to win his eighth Australian Open!
We can’t move on to February’s action before mentioning one of the saddest stories of 2020, that has impacted the world of sport and fans across the globe to this day – the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and six other passengers, who were involved in a helicopter crash on the way to watching a basketball game. Black Mamba’s influence on the game is truly legendary and he’ll never be forgotten. ♾️
Father, Husband, Laker, Oscar Winner, Girl Dad, Author, Black Mamba, Champion, Mentor, Hall of Famer. Kobe Bryant ∞ pic.twitter.com/yyxRzbuToz
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 23, 2020
The NFL kicked the month off in emphatic fashion with Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Patrick Mahomes inspired the Kansas City Chiefs to a dramatic comeback win over the San Francisco 49ers and was crowned MVP in the process.
Later in February we saw the big rematch boxing fans had been waiting for, Tyson Fury challenging Deontay Wilder for the WBC Heavyweight Title, which Wilder had held for the past five years. A tough fight saw British heavyweight Fury out-box Wilder, causing the American’s team to throw in the towel, handing the title to Fury.
🥊 𝐌𝐎𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐘𝐄𝐀𝐑 🔥
Today, we take a quick chronological look back at some of the best TR moments from a year we won’t soon forget, beginning with a February night in Vegas where @Tyson_Fury was once again crowned the king. 👑 pic.twitter.com/P3Lqj4YGfr
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) December 27, 2020
In true Tyson Fury style the charismatic ‘Gypsy King’ went on to serenade Las Vegas with a rendition of American Pie! Love him or hate him, you can’t deny he’s an entertainer…
— WSC Sports (@WSC_Sports) February 23, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from February here.
March 2020 will forever live in sports infamy. It’s when almost all major sports around the world came to a very abrupt halt. Seasons were paused and tournaments were postponed or cancelled as sports bodies, teams and leagues tried desperately to understand the full implications of Covid-19 and most importantly make sure fans, players and staff were safe.
NBA To Suspend Season Following Tonight’s Games pic.twitter.com/2PTx2fkLlW
— NBA (@NBA) March 12, 2020
Believe it or not, just a week before the global sports hiatus we saw the finals of the Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup between Australia and India in a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground, with hosts Australia crowned champions.
The tournament smashed records all over, being the most-watched women’s cricket event ever, with 1.1 billion views on the International Cricket Council’s digital channels.
The final game marked a record attendance for women’s sport in Australia with 86,174 fans watching along in the cricket Colosseum that is the MCG. It would be a long time until we saw attendance numbers anywhere close to those again…
— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) March 8, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from March (yes there were more!) here .
Sports were still on hold in April. So what do sports commentators do when there’s no live sport? They get creative that’s what, such as this British rugby commentator who took every day life activities during lockdown and turned them into competitive sports events.
— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) March 17, 2020
This animator kept sports fans entertained by re-purposing classic football commentary and the outcome is brilliant!
But what did the teams, leagues and broadcasters do when there were suddenly no live games to show? How did they fill the massive content void they now faced, and more importantly, how did they keep fans happy? Well we have a whole separate article on that which you can read here .
After being starved of action for two months sports fans finally started getting what they had been craving for in May, live action. But things were a little ‘different’ from what we were used to.
The German Bundesliga was the first major football league to return to action in Europe, picking up its season right where it left off and fans couldn’t have been happier. In fact the Bundesliga broke viewing records with over six million people watching domestically in Germany, both on TV and online, and over 70 broadcasters televising matches worldwide.
With no fans allowed in stadiums, we saw new viewing experiences offered to those watching along at home, with some broadcasters experimenting for the first time with artificial fan noise to add to the atmosphere.
Miss the sound of fans in the stadium? On Saturday, you can watch @Bundesliga_EN action with crowd noise!
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 30, 2020
One of the most surreal moments in May was watching Borussia Dortmund following their opening game win, pay tribute to the famous ‘Yellow Wall’, despite it being complete void of fans. Now that’s dedication to the 12th man!
The Yellow Wall, always there in spirit 💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/UHG43jJRNn
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) May 18, 2020
The first US sport to return after the pause was NASCAR and more than six million people tuned in to watch its comeback with race fans delighted to again hear the exhalating noise that you only get on race day.
These sounds will singlehandedly make the middle of your week much better. pic.twitter.com/dqdi35Gq1w
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 21, 2020
We also saw one of the first sports interviews to feature protective gear, with race winner Denny Hamlin wearing this awesome smiling mask!
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 21, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from May here .
Suddenly, just like that, a bunch more sports came back in June! In fact, after months of drought, fans were spoiled for choice. With almost all European football leagues returning, rushing to finish their seasons, add to that the likes of Australia’s AFL, Spain’s Basketball League and the return of PGA Tour, sports fans could plan out an entire day’s worth of viewing, giving them a nice headache over which games to watch.
The highly anticipated return of the English Premier League kicked off to a bunch of controversy over a disallowed goal which left Sheffield United fans fuming. Neither the referee, goal-line technology or even VAR intervened to give the correct decision. 🤦♂️
We also saw players take the knee in support for the global Black Lives Matter movement for the first time, to collectively show their opposition to racial violence and discrimination following George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
VAR may have failed Sheffield United in June, but something that was clear and obvious to all of us was that Liverpool were going to win the Premier League for the first time. After 30 painful years without a domestic league title they did it in style with no other team even coming close.
Watch every goal that secured the @premierleague title 🏆
All 7️⃣0️⃣ strikes ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/jQvG6DkVZq
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 27, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from June here .
In the previous couple of months we saw action return across Asia and Europe, but July was all about US sports, with heavyweights MLB, NBA and MLS (among others) all returning to action.
To say that the MLB was missed during the global sport hiatus is a massive understatement. Four million people tuned in to ESPN to watch Opening Day, the most-watched regular season MLB game on any network since 2011. That’s up 232% from 2019.
And what better way to mark Opening Day than with a grand slam walk-off, the first in 34 years!
The first walk-off grand slam on Opening Day since 1986 🔥
— ESPN (@espn) July 25, 2020
The NBA came back at the end of July with 22 teams setting up shop in a special ESPN ‘Bubble’ at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. With arenas still closed the NBA, like many other sports, trialed new technologies to enhance experiences for fans, including new camera angles, big screens courtside and enhanced audio to listen in on players and coaches.
NBA opening night saw the New Orleans Pelicans take on Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers against Los Angeles Clippers with both games drawing in a whopping 2.9 million average viewers, with 4.1 million at it’s peak.
Players and staff used the new NBA bubble as a platform to further the BLM message and LeBron’s post game interview summed up the night perfectly:
“Basketball has always been bigger than just the ball and the rim…. We want to continue to spread love across America.”
It’s bigger than basketball.
“We want to keep our foot on the gas.” pic.twitter.com/Bfymlz5lyf
— NBA (@NBA) July 31, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from July here .
Over in Europe, August was all about the UEFA Champions League, the jewel in the crown of the European football. German giants Bayern Munich won the competition by beating Paris Saint Germain 1–0 in the final in Lisbon, however it was the quarter-final 8–2 demolition of Lionel Messi’s Barcelona that lingers in football fans memories the most. An unbelievable game!
The NBA Bubble continued to entertain with some brilliant basketball throughout August, but there was one player who shone brightest, the 2019 Rookie of the Year, Luca Doncic.
Despite his team, the Dallas Mavericks, being eliminated from the playoffs in August his performances deserve a special mention: 31 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 8.7 APG, 40-point triple-double in Game 4 and was the youngest player to ever hit a playoff buzzer-beater, proving he’s ready for NBA domination…
LUKA OMGGGGG pic.twitter.com/v3gPhPzbie
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 23, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from August here .
Hand’s down the most anticipated sporting comeback in September was the return of Football (the American version). That’s backed up by the sensational 20.63m fans who tuned in to NBC to watch the first game, between 2019’s Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans. Nearly 15m tuned in just to watch the pre-game action!
The Chiefs ran out comfortable winners with Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes running the show, throwing three touchdowns, with the final score finishing up 34–20.
The NHL returned to action in August to the delight of hockey fans and in September we were treated to the finals of the Stanley Cup. One team lit up the tournament from game one and that was the eventual winners Tampa Bay Lightening. Here’s the moment they won with some priceless commentary…
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) September 29, 2020
One unique thing players had to adapt to in 2020 were the bubbles that actually allowed tournaments to go ahead. Players were separated from family for weeks or months at a time, and in the case of the NHL players were in a completely different country (Canada) so what better moment could there be than family reunion day.
Family reunion day. 💙 pic.twitter.com/Eh3KNSMLE0
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) September 30, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from September here .
Is there anything more iconic or intimidating than the New Zealand All Blacks’ pre-game Haka? Well for sports fans, and even New Zealand’s opponents, Australia, it was a very welcomed sight as it emphatically marked the return of Rugby in October.
— WSC Sports (@WSC_Sports) October 11, 2020
The NBA’s bubble at Disney World can be showcased as a complete success with not one single positive coronavirus test in the three month period which saw over 172 games played.
Despite a truly impressive tournament showing from Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers went on to rightly win the Finals series, with who else but LeBron James given the Finals MVP title following his heroics on and off the court.
#LakeShow x NBA CHAMPS
— NBA (@NBA) October 13, 2020
It was the Los Angeles Lakers first NBA title in 10 years.
Ever wondered how you’re able to see an NBA highlight on social media so soon after the play just happened? Well you can find out how that’s made possible here .
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 28, 2020
Also in October we saw what had been a very entertaining MLB series come to a close with the Los Angeles Dodgers clinching their 7th World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays. The win came in a tight game six and ended a 32-year title drought for the Dodgers.
Watch all the other best sports highlights from October here .
2020’s trick shot of the year goes to Jon Rahm for this stunning hole-in-one at the Masters in November.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 10, 2020
Dustin Johnson took the Masters by storm. He finished at 20-under par, breaking the Masters scoring record and tied the major championship record. Reaching and then realising that he’d achieved his childhood dream brought the emotion flooding out of the new world number 1. The commentator at the end of the clip summed up the moment beautifully…
— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 15, 2020
What a 2020 British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton had! He recently revealed that the BLM movement gave him ‘extra drive’ to win and he didn’t disappoint. In November he won his 7th World Title at the Turkish Grand Prix.
The most race wins by F1 drivers 🤩
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 30, 2020
Tragically we lost another global sports icon in 2020, Diego Maradona. Largely regarded as the greatest football player of all time, he was an Argentinian hero from a young age but immortalized himself in football history when he scored simply the best World Cup goal ever.
— WSC Sports (@WSC_Sports) November 25, 2020
Watch all the other best sports highlights from November here .
We’ve reached the final month of this unforgettable year, December, and the amazing action didn’t slow down one bit.
The new NBA season tipped off on December 22nd and we’ve already seen some remarkable milestones. The Dallas Mavericks recording the biggest ever halftime lead in NBA history, of a staggering 50 points, and Steph Curry working his way into the NBA all time top 3 for 3-pointers, with 2,500, only behind Reggie Miller, 2560 and Ray Allen, 2973.
— NBA (@NBA) December 28, 2020
South Korean superstar and Tottenham Hotspur forward, Son Heung-min loves December. Well he loves scoring sensation goals at this time of year anyway. His December 7 2019 wonder-goal earned him the prestigious Puskás award and nearly a year to the day he scored another worldie against his team’s arch rival Arsenal.
We’ll leave you with perhaps the most 2020 sporting moment this year could throw at us. A chaotic mixture of sloppiness, brilliance, uncertainty, triumph and failure, this had everything. At one point they were literally taking on the whole team, the subs and coaches and fans and…well just watch it and see what happened!
There you have it, the best sporting moments of this truly remarkable year. Through all the hard times we’ve collectively had to endure in 2020 there’s still been some sensational sporting moments. The global sports shutdown seems like a long time ago and here’s hoping we never have to go through something like that ever again.
We need sports in our lives to give us that much needed release, that sense of community that comes with sports fandom, that distraction from work or whatever it may be. So, whatever sport it is that you love to watch or play, we wish you a very happy and healthy new year and all the best in 2021! ✌️