- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and forget that we’re all going to die. And not just because we’re all mortals and will therefore one day, years and years from now, return to dust. I mean, like, pretty soon we’ll be dead. Before Christmas.
The Mayans, remember? Some calendar they made ends soon, and on Dec. 21, 2012, so do we.
All year everyone has been looking for signs of the apocalypse. “Oh, no! This fairly rare thing has occurred! This means those ancient people who practiced human sacrifice and whose entire civilization was dependent on slave labor had it all right!”
Is it true? Is the world as doomed as Andy Reid and a Dwight Howard free throw? Should you stop buying presents for family and friends and instead spend all of your money on elaborate Johnny Football haircuts? Or get even crazier and buy NHL season tickets?
So what prophecies hath our sports foretold?
Things looked pretty bleak for a while there when the Pirates, Orioles, Nationals and Indians were all doing well. The Orioles hung on, but were quickly dispatched from the playoffs, and the Nationals came through for civilization by blowing the final game of the National League Division Series. Clutch.
And why did Nationals GM Mike Rizzo never cite preventing the apocalypse as a reason for shutting Stephen Strasburg down? No reasonable person would have argued with that reasoning.
The Giants won the World Series and the Yankees flamed out in the postseason, both of which are fairly normal in modern times. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, which is a rare accomplishment, but it was balanced out by voters using old-timey stats over sabermetrics to pick an MVP.
If the world ends, it’s not baseball’s fault. Great job, Mr. Selig.
The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl and the SEC won a national title. Same old, same old.
Some may be alarmed by Notre Dame being good, but that’s more like a return to normalcy than a reason to start making animal sacrifices to the Mayan gods for mercy. The Lions played in a playoff game at the beginning of 2012 and that was no doubt worrisome, but they’re back to stinking. While that is no fun for Lions fans, it’s a big relief if you are the kind of person who enjoys the world existing.
Football is not without its concerns, however. Three developments could have dire consequences for humanity:
• Robert Griffin III is already well on his way to a great NFL career despite winning the Heisman. That simply doesn’t happen.
• Calvin Johnson was on the cover of "Madden," yet so far has gone uninjured and is on pace to set career highs in receptions and yards, and may even break Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season.
• The Heisman was won by a freshman.
Add possibly causing the end of the world to the many failings of Roger Goodell and the NCAA. But the Giants, Notre Dame and Lions are probably enough to balance out the checks in the apocalypse column.
John Calipari won his first national title, but that was bound to eventually happen. No need for it to signal the end of the world (except maybe if you’re a Memphis or Louisville fan). Plus, winning a championship with a team full of first-round NBA talent isn’t exactly earth-shattering.
David Stern continues to govern the NBA erratically and vindictively, so that’s nice. And Team USA won gold at the Olympics. We’re all good.
Which brings us to LeBron James. He is greatly debated among end times forecasters (aka those people who appear on “Doomsday Preppers” on NatGeo).
Does a championship by someone who was supposedly the biggest and most chokiest failure who ever failed mean the world is ending? Yes. Yes, is what I would say ... if that person wasn’t 6-8, 250, 27 years old and remarkably talented and motivated. If you think about, really think about it, maybe it’s not so remarkable for such a person to win a championship in the sport of basketball.
Whew! Close call there. But maybe the world will be around long enough to see if James can win back-to-back titles.
A work stoppage? The NHL killing its growth and momentum just as it’s starting to really get going again? Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr causing more problems than they’re solving? Absolutely nothing could be more common in sports. If the world does end, maybe the ice-covered part of the world will be spared.
Spain won the UEFA championship back in July and Lionel Messi is destroying everyone in La Liga. No cause for concern there.
Michael Phelps won approximately all of the Olympic swimming medals and the U.S. won the most golds and most overall medals in London. The U.S. women destroyed their competition in most everything. Usain Bolt ran extremely fast. Most everyone in cycling cheated, boxing was generally ignored, the popularity of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick stayed high despite their performance, no one won multiple majors in golf, the same few names dominated tennis and no horse won the Triple Crown.
Very little on the world stage should make us scared for the world.
Except ... the British. Yes, the British. In a year in which we’re merely trying to prevent the end of the world, they go out and suddenly get good at sports -- a world-ending phenomenon if there ever was one. Olympic medals, a Grand Slam tennis title and a European Ryder Cup victory led by Englishman Ian Poulter. The list doesn’t go on, but that’s an extremely long list of sports accomplishments for the British people.
So many of the world’s problems throughout history have been because of the British. We should have figured they would be the cause of the end of the world, too.