The world of sports keeps us captivated and inspired, especially on the holidays. It’s a time to reevaluate the past year, reward ourselves for making it through, enjoy family, and dream of better things to come for the new year. Some would say Christmas is the starting point for a new beginning and new gifts of hope.
Here are 5 sports gifts that we at TSL would want to find under the Christmas tree.
1. A Return To The Court For Naomi Osaka
A return to the court for four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka in 2022. Tennis’ most polarizing figure spent most of her last two WTA seasons winning tournaments while fighting for social justice, being a mental health advocate, defending her actions and eventually deciding to step away from the sport for a minute to enjoy life and bask in her accomplishments.
The 24-year-old Osaka carried a huge burden as the popular voice of a generation of young athletes and a champion for mental health issues. Her struggle with these mental health challenges played out on the most high profile stages in the world, from her early loss in the Olympics to her abrupt withdrawal from the French Open in May, citing mental health reasons after an emotional presser.
She seems to be in good spirits, as her social media accounts reflect a young woman who is enjoying life, still exploring new things and giving herself a chance to grow outside of the suffocating sphere of celebrity life and constant social media pressures.
We hope to see Osaka on the tennis courts when the 49th year of the WTA kicks off in Australia, with the Adelaide International or at least by the end of the grass court swing at Wimbledon.
2. Decrease In New Omicron COVID Cases
This omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has once again invaded sports, and pro and college players are contracting the virus at an alarming rate. The NHL has already suspended its season until January.
This new rise in COVID cases has touched everyone from NBA superstars to NFL head coaches and starting quarterbacks. Games have been postponed at the college and pro level, and it looks as if we may be headed toward another shutdown.
No fans at the games, playing in a bubble. No one wants to go back to that, so for Christmas 2021 we need these COVID cases to decrease in 2022. And we need for modern medicine to step up to the plate and produce a vaccine that will fight this new, stronger strain of COVID that’s tearing through the globe.
3. Sha’Carri Richardson Returns Faster, Better
If Santa was really for the culture, then Sha’Carri would return to the track and commence to kicking major ass in these races leading up to her next shot at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Richardson has been low key since her last-place finish in the highly-anticipated Prefontaine Classic coming off her Olympic suspension for marijuana.
The Jamaican sprinters housed the field in emphatic fashion.
Richardson still had her energy and swag after a tough performance. She still has the talent and time to turn it around. The best medicine for a collapse is a comeback, and Richardson can etch her name in the history book of legendary sprinters and craft another inspirational story of growth and Black woman magic.
4. Byron Leftwich and Eric Bieniemy Get Calls For Head Coach Jobs
These offensive coordinators have led explosive, Super Bowl-winning offenses and are adept at offense construction, play-calling, and are innovative and versatile in the way they handle their quarterbacks. What’s stopping them from being coveted head coach hires?
5. Triston McKenzie wins AL Cy Young
By this time in 2022, I hope to still be drunk off the celebration of Cleveland Indians pitcher Triston McKenzie becoming the first Black Cy Young award winner since David Price won 20 games and pulled it off in 2012 for the Toronto Blue Jays.
We’ve only had seven of them in the history of baseball, and if McKenzie can build on his inconsistency from last season and harness those flashes of generational dominance that saw him nearly throw MLB’s first perfect game in nine years and 24th in MLB history, then he can accomplish something incredible on the 10-year anniversary of the last Black Cy Young Award winner in Major League Baseball.
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