2017 opened with the best College Football Playoff National Championship to date and only got better from there.
Although the year as a whole will be looked back on as a time of strife and upheaval, 2017 provided more than a few indelible moments in sports history. A month after Clemson's stunning, last-second win over Alabama for the FBS college football championship, the New England Patriots capped the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history to claim their fifth NFL Championship in a 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
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The close finishes continued in the climax of the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament, where the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs after trailing with less than two minutes to go. On the NCAA Women's side, basketball fans witnessed one of the most shocking upsets ever when the heavily-favored UConn Huskies lost in the semifinals to Mississippi State on a buzzer beater to end their 111-game winning streak (the Bulldogs lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the National Championship Game).
One of the defining trends of the year was the continued success of the top teams across all sports, and as the calendar moved onto the Summer, the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the NBA Playoffs reaffirmed the pecking order of their respective leagues. The Pittsburgh Penguins claimed their second straight Stanley Cup with a win over the Nashville Predators in six games, while the Golden State Warriors, lead by Kevin Durant, won their second title in three years by defeating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a "three-match" of the past two NBA Finals.
In the world of tennis, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal continued their unprecedented run of success, alternating victories in the four Grand Slam events. But on the women's side, after years of domination by the Williams sisters, a new batch of superstars began to emerge.
Over on the PGA Tournament, Justin Thomas won the FedEx Cup as this season's best golfer. The 24-year-old won his first major (the PGA Championship) and held off a class of rising stars like Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson to take home the $10 million bonus.
As for the MLB, 2017 was one of the best years for baseball in quite some time. With rookies like Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger leading the way, players set a new mark for most home runs in a season. And for the second year in a row, the World Series went to a winner-take-all Game 7, with the Houston Astros emerging victorious over the Los Angeles Dodgers for the franchise's first-ever championship.
2017 was a year to forget in American soccer, as the USMNT team was defeated 2-1 by Trinidad and Tobago in its final World Cup qualifier to miss out on on next year's international tournament for the first time in over 30 years. Still, the MLS provided plenty of excitement, as Toronto FC completed the greatest season in MLS history by defeating the Seattle Sounders 2-0 in a rematch of last year's MLS Cup.
So even though the real world was full of news we'd like to forget, sports remained an important diversion for many of us. Game on, indeed.