Most sports fans feel that the Penn State child abuse sex scandal was the top sports story of 2012. However, there are others that resonated with fans and had a significant impact on the international sports landscape.
Here are my top five of 2012:
Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator whose crimes caused devastation not only for his victims, but for his university as well, was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts. In October, the 68-year-old was given a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years. Sandusky's conviction provided some degree of closure, but a nasty aftermath remained. On July 12, former FBI Director Louis Freeh released the results of his investigation. It indicated that Head Coach Joe Paterno and other top school officials covered up allegations against Sandusky. The NCAA used that report as the foundation for its sanctions announced later that month, which included a four-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine and scholarship reductions.
In February, federal prosecutors ended an investigation into whether the cycling icon used performance-enhancing drugs. As it turned out, it was only a temporary reprieve for the once-revered star. In June, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs, and in August, when he decided to drop his fight against the charges, the USADA wiped out his record seven Tour championships. A report released in October, disclosed details of the evidence. Ultimately, Armstrong was dropped by many of the companies he endorsed and he's no longer formally involved with Livestrong, the cancer charity he founded.
When the NFL started the season with replacement officials, fans and experts alike predicted a blown call would decide an important game. They were right! In Week 3 in front of a national television audience on "NFL Monday Night Football," a questionable touchdown catch and a missed offensive pass interference penalty gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers. Just two days later, the league resolved its labor dispute with the regular refs.
The deaths of NFL greats Junior Seau -- who committed suicide – and Alex Karras – who suffered from dementia – were grim reminders of the angst regarding head injuries in the sport. The league has been sued by thousands of retired players, alleging the NFL failed to protect them from the dangers of concussions.
Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, retired from her head coaching post at the University of Tennessee in April, at age 59, less than eight months after disclosing she had early-onset dementia. Summitt posted a record of 1,098-208 with eight national championships in 38 seasons.