Look toward London
Iliana Limón Romero
The London Olympics delivered the most compelling storylines of 2012. Gabby Douglas was not considered a contender for the women's gymnastics all-around gold medal at the beginning of the year, but the athlete with an infectious smile took the Olympics by storm. She claimed the top gymnastics prize and tremendous fan support.
The gymnastics competition also inspired one of the most amusing and popular Internet memes of the year in McKayla Maroney's irritated pout over falling short of her individual gold-medal goals. It inspired a Tumblr account titled "McKayla's Not Impressed," and . Maroney later posed with President Barack Obama, with both making her trademark smirk.
The Morning Call
Not to seem too provincial, but the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal is the top sports story of 2012. Yes, you could claim the London Olympics or the Lance Armstrong doping story, but the Penn State scandal doesn't just affect that university and its football program. It has the potential to affect all segments of society.
Starting with the death of legendary coach Joe Paterno in January, through the Sandusky trial and conviction in June, the unprecedented NCAA sanctions in July and Sandusky's sentencing in October, it was the most compelling story of the year.
The fact that it brought increased awareness of child sexual abuse in this country was the only bright spot to the story.
Good, bad and worse
The top national sports story for 2012? Depends on how you look at it, but what we had was the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good: The London Olympics. Gabby Douglas winning the all-around women's gymnastics title, which no one saw coming. More Michael Phelps medals. Many other compelling moments. Uplifting, exciting, fun to watch.
The bad: Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France stain.
The ugly: Penn State's Jerry Sandusky convicted and sent to jail in the sex abuse scandal involving young boys. Once the calendar hits Jan. 1, 2013, this is not going away, either. There are other criminal charges pending against former administrators at the school.
It was James' year
The enduring effects, societal and athletic, of the Sandusky/Penn State scandal and football's evolving treatment of concussions are undeniable. But let's turn toward actual competition, where Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Pat Summitt, Adrian Peterson and the Manning brothers, among dozens, gave us moments and seasons for the ages. None matched LeBron James.
Two years removed from "The Decision," James carried not only the Heat to the NBA championship but also the United States Olympic team to the gold medal. "There is nobody in the history of the game of basketball who has been more unique than you," Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski said in introducing James as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. High praise, indeed.