Year in Review: The worst of sport in 2020

Twelve months ago, the sporting world was bracing for an Olympic year, with all the world records and upsets that come with that spectacular five-ring circus.

No-one was predicting what we got instead.

This year tested sport to its limit, with events cancelled around the world, careers ending prematurely and everyone taking stock in the face of COVID-19.

But with that came some disappointments.

Newshub's so-called experts share their worst of sport in 2020.

Michael O'Keefe, Newshub sports reporter 

The Halberg's opt for "decade" awards 

The fact sport was able to be played at all this year was nothing short of a miracle. When coronavirus stopped it in its tracks, the outlook was bleak. But administrators worked hard to get sport back up and running and they need to be congratulated for that. 

But the Halberg's opted for 'decade' awards rather than 'year' awards, in part because of the postponement of the Olympics.

Just because other sports were robbed of their chance to compete doesn't mean the Halberg's should punish those that were fortunate enough to perform. 

Context is important for these awards. That's why Olympic years favour the Olympic athletes (more than other years). Rugby World Cup years favour the All Blacks and Black Ferns (more than other years). Sure, those athletes, teams and coaches that did get to compete this year might have less 'competition' in their categories, but that's simply a reflection of the year. It might actually give a chance to those people/teams that often get overlooked to win the award. 

Oh but no fear, those people that were eligible this year will be eligible next year?! Talk about rubbing salt into the wound. The context is all wrong. The challenges the athletes that competed this year will be very different to the challenges athletes face next year - let alone competing against the Olympics. How are you supposed to judge that?

You shouldn't.

Lisa Carrington winning the Supreme Halberg Award in 2017
Lisa Carrington winning the Supreme Halberg Award in 2017 Photo credit: Photosport

Grant Chapman, Newshub online sports editior

The closure of Radio Sport 

One of the really scary things during New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown was the manner in which many businesses caved without putting up a fight.

Just three days after the country moved to Level Four, the Kiwi sporting community was rocked by the announcement that, after 24 years, Radio Sport would close “indefinitely”.

Owner NZME could not run up the white flag fast enough.

Obviously, many companies were already running close to the margin or below it, and perhaps the pandemic was the straw that simply broke their backs.

But three days? And two days later, Bauer Media followed.

The NZ Government was already doing its best to keep businesses alive with wage subsidies and before the country reopened, it would offer a support package targeted specifically at the media industry.

How might that have helped Radio Sport and Bauer if they had hung in there a little longer?  

Tom Bartlett, Newshub General Head of Sport, 

The Champions League undoes all the good work of Black Lives Matter 

Sport has the power to influence people in a positive way but it cannot do the opposite.

For all the big steps forward sport has taken in the fight against racial inequality in 2020 with the public backing of the Black Lives Matter Movement, it was painful and sad to watch the racism scandal engulf the Champions League game between Paris St-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir.

The onus is now on one of the biggest sports in the world to lead the way, ensuring football's zero tolerance is actually real.

William Hewett, Newshub online sports producer 

The death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter

For many, Kobe Bryant was not only a basketball legend but also a role model.

When the shocking news came on January 26 that Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends and a pilot had died in a helicopter crash, it was not only a day of sorrow for basketball fans but everyone in general.

The Los Angeles Lakers star brought so much joy to people. Not only did he win five NBA championships and was an 18-time all-star, but he was also a role model in the way he went about his work. 

He had an incredible work ethic and his mentality was something everyone should aim for - be it in sport or business.

Kobe Bryant's legacy will last forever. 

 A mural depicting deceased NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
A mural depicting deceased NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Photo credit: Getty

Brad Lewis, Newshub online sports producer 

COVID-19 ruins Liverpool's great moment 

After waiting 30 years to celebrate a Liverpool English Premier League title, 2020 waved its middle finger right in the face of every single supporter of the club.

While it was extremely satisfying to see the football club I have loved as long as I can remember finally reach the heights it belongs one more time, closed boarders scrapped plans to be there in person.

Travelling to Merseyside to celebrate the end of 30 years of footballing mediocrity would have been the highlight of one's life - yes even bigger than the birth of a first child.

But a global pandemic  put an end to those plans - instead I sat in front of a TV screen with a couple of beers and watched the coverage of the team celebrating in a private, isolation party.