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2011 YEAR IN REVIEW

OUR TOP TENS FROM 2011, BOTH CHRISTIAN AND SECULAR, CHOSEN BY THE SPORTS SPECTRUM STAFF W W W. S P O R T S S P E C T R U M . C O M


TOP-10 SPORTING EVENTS

JOE ROBBINS / GETTY IMAGES


1) GAME 6, WORLD SERIES – The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the 11th inning, 10-9, in Game 6 of the World Series to force a Game 7. 2) USA VS. BRAZIL – Abby Wambach tied the game with a leaping header in the 122nd minute, and the United States captured the match in penalty kicks to advance to the World Cup semifinals. It was a match captured the nation. 3) SUPER BOWL XLV – Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25. The Packers entered the playoffs as the sixth seed, a wild card team in the NFC, and finished the playoffs as the Super Bowl champ. 4) STANFORD, OCTOBER 29 – Stanford won 5648 in a triple-overtime victory against Southern Cal on October 29. 5) FIRST ROUND, NBA PLAYOFFS – The top-seeded San Antonio Spurs lost Game 3 of their first-round NBA playoff series against the No. 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in a down-to-the-wire contest, 91-88. The Spurs ended up getting upset in the series, as well. 6) GAME 4, NBA FINALS – Dirk Nowitzki battled through a 101-degree fever to score 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavs won the game 86-83 against the Miami Heat, which would help them win the NBA Championship in six games. 7) FIRST ROUND, NCAA TOURNAMENT – In dramatic fashion, No. 4-seeded Louisville lost to No. 13-seeded Morehead State, 62-61. 8) MCGLADREY CLASSIC – Ben Crane beat Webb Simpson in the 2011 McGladrey Classic, winning in a playoff on the second hole. Added to the excitement was the fact that both golfers are friends, and Ben and his wife had a child the next day! Ben almost pulled out of the tournament before it started because of an injury, but he stayed in and ended up coming back from seven shots off the lead with 11 holes to go, to win. 9) FORD 400 – Tony Stewart beat Carl Edwards in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the Sprint Cup championship in a tiebreaker. 10) U.S. OPEN – Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, in the 2011 U.S. Open final.


TOP-10 CHRISTIAN SPORTS STORIES 1) TIM TEBOW – Any story on Tim Tebow seemed big, especially when he would win just after people in the media said he wasn’t good enough to play in the NFL, or that it wasn’t him that won, it was the defense, or some other excuse. That negativity turned to praise when he went 7-1 in his first eight games as a starter this season. 2) SAINT LOUIS CARDINALS – Saint Louis won the World Series with Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday playing key roles in the starting lineup. 3) GREEN BAY PACKERS – Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a Super Bowl title and won MVP of the game. 4) JIM TRESSEL – Tressel’s legacy at Ohio State University came to an end after some stories broke about athletes receiving benefits from local tattoo parlors. 5) TREVOR BAYNE – Bayne won NASCAR’s most prestigious race, the Daytona 500, and became the youngest driver (at 20 years and 1 day) to win the race. 6) CHRIS PAUL – Paul’s trade to the Lakers was nixed by the NBA, and then he was traded to the L.A. Clippers. 7) CLAYTON KERSHAW – L.A. Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw won the National League Cy Young award for the league’s best pitcher. 8) CASE KEENUM – Houston Cougars quarterback Case Keenum led his team to a 13-1 record and became the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards (19,217), touchdowns (155), completions (1,546), total offense (20,114) and touchdowns in a game (nine). 9) ANTHONY CALVILLO – Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo, of the Canadian Football League, became pro football’s all-time passing yardage leader (73,412). 10) DEMAURICE SMITH, JEFF SATURDAY – NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith and Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday took a lead role in helping bridge the gap between the owners and the players during the NFL lockout.


TOP-10 UPSETS


1) MAVERICKS VS. HEAT – The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in six games to win the 2011 NBA Finals. The Heat’s “Big Three” were supposed to coast to a title, but Dallas won its first NBA Championship instead. 2) VCU VS. KANSAS – During an improbable run in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the 11-seeded Rams knocked off five higher-ranked teams en route to the Final Four, including a 71-61 victory over No. 1 Kansas. 3) IOWA STATE VS. OKLAHOMA STATE: The Cyclones got their first win ever against a team ranked sixth or higher. They came back from a 17-point deficit to win 37-31. 4) TREVOR BAYNE, DAYTONA 500 – Bayne became the youngest winner of the race during the 53rd running and started in the 32 position. 5) JO-WILFRED TSONGA VS. ROGER FEDERER – Tsonga rallied to beat Federer after falling two sets down. Federer was 178-0 when he won the first two sets of a major singles match. 6) SEAHAWKS VS. SAINTS – No one gave Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks any credit for winning the NFC West with an 8-8 record. But they stunned the defending Super Bowl Champs 41-36. 7) RORY MCILROY, U.S. OPEN – After a monumental collapse at Augusta during the Masters, McIlroy silenced some critics by putting together one of the most dominant U.S. Open performances in history (16-under), setting 11 U.S. Open records. 8) JAPAN VS. UNITED STATES – Most thought the U.S. would roll through the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup; however, a gutsy performance by Japan, who was playing for a nation ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami, defeated the U.S. in penalties 3-1 to win their first World Cup. 9) IRELAND VS. AUSTRALIA – At the 2011 Rugby World Cup, an aging Irish squad stunned the reigning Tri-Nations Cup Champion and World Cup host Australia. It was Ireland’s first ever World Cup win against Australia after several dismal outings. 10) CHIEFS VS. PACKERS – The upstart Chiefs under new coach Romeo Crennel and an inspired vagabond QB Kyle Orton beat Green Bay 19-14, ending the Pack’s dream of a perfect 7 season. SPORTS SPECTRUM ~ DIGIMAG 2011


TOP-10 CHRISTIAN ATHLETES TO WATCH IN 2012 1) CLAYTON KERSHAW: LA DODGERS (P) 2) TIM TEBOW: DENVER BRONCOS (QB) 3) WEBB SIMPSON: PGA GOLFER 4) STEPHEN CURRY: GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (G) 5) ANDY DALTON: CINCINNATI BENGALS (QB) 6) ALBERT PUJOLS: ANAHEIM ANGLES (1B) 7) ALLYSON FELIX: TRACK & FIELD (SPRINTER) 8) LANDRY JONES: UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA (QB) 9) MAYA MOORE: MINNESOTA LYNX (F) 10) CODY ZELLER: INDIANA UNIVERSITY (F/C)


TOP-10 INTRIGUING PEOPLE

1) MARK CUBAN – He’s one of the most well-known owners in sports, and this year his Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship. He’s involved with numerous businesses and is intriguing to listen to. He was great on the TV show, “Shark Tank,” this year as well. He knows business, sports, politics, and entertainment. He’s worth more than two billion dollars, and he wears a t-shirt as he sits near his team on the bench instead of in an owner’s box. 2) LEBRON JAMES – He was probably the most talked about athlete this year in his saga versus the fans, media, and the NBA.

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3) MIKE KRZYZEWSKI – This year he became the winningest coach in NCAA Division men’s basketball history. He’s very interesting to listen to when it comes to coaching and leadership. 4) CHARLES BARKLEY – He’s so outspoken and honest. He is entertaining to watch on TV, and he’s even losing weight now by doing “Weight Watchers.” 5) PEYTON MANNING – His value is even greater than most of us realized. It will be an interesting story to follow as he tries to come back from his injury. 6) TONY DUNGY – He is humble and a man of integrity. He has done a great job on NBC’s NFL coverage and is having a huge influence even though he has stepped away from coaching. 7) DICK VITALE – Even at the age of 72, he has more energy than any other sports broadcaster out there. He’s such a legend, and his reach crosses over into pop culture as well. 8) MICHAEL WILBON – He is a co-host of (Pardon the Interruption) and has become a proven voice on the NBA. His loyalty to Chicago sports teams have never wavered. He’s an analyst but also a fan. 9) RYAN LEAF – He was drafted in the same year as Peyton Manning, but his career never took off. He battled drug abuse, anger, failed expectations and had a benign tumor removed from his brain this year. He has recently written a book about his struggles. It’s been a tough life for Leaf, but it seems like he’s matured and is moving forward. 10) SHAQUILLE O’NEAL – After retiring from the NBA, he’s joined the broadcasting business, adding even more flavor to TNT’s entertaining crew. Is there anything Shaq hasn’t done?


TOP-10 DISTINCTLY CHRISTIAN COLLEGES


1) CAL BAPTIST – Although Cal Baptist finished sixth in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup (for the 2010-11 season) for all NAIA schools, behind Azusa Pacific (first) and Fresno Pacific (third), this award is about a collective work of achievements over the 2011 year, not the 2010-11 school calendar. With that said, we couldn’t dismiss Cal Baptist’s accomplishments, especially when the Lancers continued to win this fall despite moving from NAIA to NCAA Division II. In all, Cal Baptist won two NAIA national titles (women’s swimming in the winter and women’s golf in the spring), had one NAIA national runner-up finish (women’s softball in the spring), and won four National Christian College Athletic Association national titles (men’s golf, men’s division I soccer, women’s division I soccer, and women’s volleyball), and finished runner-up in NCCAA women’s cross country this fall. Besides their national championships, what also set Cal Baptist apart from other schools was their dominance in two conferences. In the winter and spring of 2011, the Lancers won three Golden State Athletic Conference titles when they were in NAIA (women’s basketball, baseball, and softball). After stepping up to the NCAA Division II Pac West Conference this past fall, Cal Baptist kept winning, taking four of the conference’s five fall sports titles (men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s soccer) for the most dominant showing by any school in the league. The only title the Lancers didn’t win was volleyball, but after placing third of 10 teams in the conference standings they won the NCCAA title to cap the most dominant sports year of any Christian college or university in 2011. 2) AZUSA PACIFIC (CALIF.) 3) FRESNO PACIFIC (CALIF.) 4) CALVIN COLLEGE (MICH.) 5) AUGUSTANA (S.D.) 6) ABILENE CHRISTIAN (TEXAS) 7) SHORTER (GA.) 8) LIBERTY (VA.) 9) INDIANA WESLEYAN 10) DALLAS BAPTIST (TEXAS)

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ACCOLADES FOR EACH SCHOOL IN OUR TOP 10


TOP-10 CONTROVERSIES 1) BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – Two teams from the same conference (LSU and Alabama) will meet for a shot at the title. Alabama didn’t even win the division in their conference or reach the SEC title game and has the opportunity to beat LSU for another split National Championship. 2) PENN STATE/ SYRACUSE SEX SCANDALS – Stealing most of the headlines at the end of 2011 were two storied programs: one football (Penn State) and the other basketball (Syracuse). It cost Joe Paterno his job at Penn State and has everyone keeping a close eye on Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. All college programs will never be the same. 3) NFL/ NBA LOCKOUTS – The summer was dominated by whether or not we would have football. In the fall, basketball was in question. 4) BRAVES VS. PIRATES, JULY 27, 2011 – At the end of a 19-inning thriller between the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates, umpire Jerry Meals blew a call at home plate, calling Julio Lugo safe after Pirates catcher Michael McKenry clearly tagged him out. The Braves won 4-3, and Meals was suspended. 5) CROSS-TOWN BRAWL – An embarrassing brawl in men’s college basketball broke out between Cincinnati and Xavier on Dec. 10. Cincinnati suspended Yancy Gates and three other players for 19 games. XU suspended four players for 11 games. 6) CONCUSSIONS – From Little League baseball to the NFL, this has been a major talking point throughout 2011. 7) USAIN BOLT DISQUALIFIED – At the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Korea, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, the World’s Fastest Man, was disqualified from a race after a false start. 8) RICHARD CHILDRESS VS. KYLE BUSCH – Sixtyfive-year-old team owner Richard Childress let loose on the much younger Kyle Busch, putting Busch in a headlock and punching him in the head repeatedly. 9) KOBE BRYANT GAY SLUR – Bryant was hit by the NBA with a $100,000 fine for a gay slur he muttered on April 14, 2011, toward an official. 10) TOOMER’S CORNER POISONING – Shortly after the Auburn Tigers beat the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, an Alabama fan poisoned the famed Oak trees with the herbicide, Spike 80Df.


TOP-10 SPORTS SPECTRUM QUOTES

DAVIS LOVE III – “Sure, golf is important to me. I’m doing my job and supporting my family and following my career, but I still understand no matter how many wins I pile up it’s not going to get me to heaven. God doesn’t grade on a curve, you’re either in or out. You’re not going to get to the pearly gates and say, ‘I was really, really nice, but I didn’t believe.’ It’s not going to get you in. There are some guys out here who are nice, and people think they are nice. The gift of forgiveness is free, but it must be accepted.” VIEW THE TOP-10 QUOTES HERE


TOP-10 RISING STARS


1) CAM NEWTON – He burst onto the scene at Auburn, and the versatile quarterback didn’t slow down during his rookie season in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. He proved a lot of people wrong with his ability to throw the ball all over the field. 2) A.J. GREEN – He is the next great wide receiver who helped get the Bengals back on track this season. 3) TREVOR BAYNE – NASCAR needs a clean-cut kid to be a star, and Bayne is their guy. 4) JIM HARBAUGH – He is the difference maker for the San Francisco 49ers in his first year as head coach. The 49ers are here to stay. 5) ANDREW LUCK – The Stanford quarterback didn’t have the monster season everyone anticipated, but he will still end up being the top pick in the NFL draft (if Indianapolis doesn’t trade it away). The sky is the limit for his potential. 6) ROBERT GRIFFIN III – The Baylor quarterback surprised many people this season by winning the Heisman Trophy, and he is now moving up NFL draft boards. 7) WEBB SIMPSON – He won twice and finished second three times on the PGA Tour this season. With Tiger Woods struggling, Webb stepped up and made the most of his opportunities. 8) SHAQUILLE O’NEAL – He finally decided to retire from the NBA, and now he’s a rising star in the broadcasting business. He is the perfect guy to battle Charles Barkley every week. 9) KURT WARNER – The NFL Network has great analysis from former players, and Kurt offers great insight on quarterbacks. He has a good grasp of what it takes to be an important voice on NFL coverage. 10) DAVID FREESE – He was the hero for the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series, but the pressure will be on to continue his success this season.


1) MOUNDS OF BLESSINGS – about phenom girl baseball pitcher Chelsea Baker (Summer 2011), by Bob Bellone 2) RESCUED FROM JUSTICE – about Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Winston Justice and his amazing conversion story (Winter 2011), by Sean Jensen 3) POWER FROM ABOVE – about three St. Louis Cardinals stars (Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman) playing together in their quest for a World Series title, which they ended up winning (Summer 2011), by Jim Gibbs 4) GRACE DEFINED – about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and renewing his faith after going to jail for dogfighting and before he was given a second chance at the NFL (Winter 2011), by Charles Chandler 5) THE FIRST FAMILY – about the Lopez family (Steven, Mark, Diana, and Jean Lopez), their world dominance in Taekwondo, and how they live out Christ inside and outside the sport (Spring 2011), by Rick Weber 6) MAJORING IN THE MINORS – about 2009 National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan (Florida Marlins) and his difficult road to salvation (Spring 2011), by Ken Snyder 7) SO MUCH BIGGER THAN SOCCER – about MLS star Wells Thompson who overcame drug addiction by accepting Christ (Spring 2011), by Stephanie Gardner 8) HEAVEN SENT – about Minnesota’s pitching staff (Summer 2011), by Jim Gibbs 9) FIGHTERS NO MORE – about former boxing great George Foreman (Summer 2011), by Rick Weber 10) A GUIDED STAR – about Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten’s difficult life growing up and how he realizes that God gave him talent for more than just winning titles (Fall 2011), by Art Stricklin

TOPFEAT


-10 SPORTS SPECTRUM TURES


SPORTS SPECTRUM COACH OF THE YEAR


BRAD STEVENS – Butler University (Indianapolis, Ind.) head coach Brad Stevens, whom we featured in our Fall 2011 issue, led the Bulldogs to their second consecutive national championship game, falling to Connecticut 53-41 in the title game. The Bulldogs got hot in the middle of the season and won 14 games in a row to win the Horizon League Tournament and make a deep run at the Big Dance. At the Athletes In Action Final Four Breakfast in Houston, Stevens said, ““This is my second time here, participating in the Final Four, and if we don’t win you know it’s ultimately OK, because that is not how I get my validation. The verse that always comes to my mind is, ‘Trust in the Lord in all of your ways and seek him first (Proverbs 3:5-6).’ That’s what I want to do as a coach.”


TIM TEBOW – Whether he was being bashed or praised, Denver Broncos quarterback and Fall 2008 Sports Spectrum cover boy Tim Tebow was always in the news. From the offseason, to backing up Kyle Orton, to earning the starting job and leading the Broncos to the playoffs, Tebow continued to stand up for his faith and make an impact for Christ throughout his roller coaster ride of a season. Tebow remained true to his beliefs and proclamation of the gospel, despite criticism from guys like Jake Plummer for sharing his faith.


SPORTS SPECTRUM ATHLETE OF THE YEAR


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January 2012 DigiMag