Well, Hampton, I've adored sports since I can remember, so I loved the great moments in sports this year just like every year. But as to your withering takedown of Patrick, I think it depends on what we want to get from sports.
Without getting too meta about this, sports is inherently a paradox. Grown men and women spend untold physical and mental anguish and a very, very tangible amount of money following made-up games that are not by definition necessary for our race to succeed and thrive. Some people love watching human beings find the physical limits of their bodies and push beyond them, or a team come together in desperate times and find a way to succeed. For those people, this year brought an unforgettable baseball season (best regular-season day ever AND perhaps the greatest World Series game of all time), an NBA Finals that could be the dictionary definition of schadenfreude and superhuman performances from tennis's Novak Djokovic (three Grand Slam titles), Rory McIlroy (a dominant win at the U.S. Open) and the truly inspiring Eric LeGrand ( learning to walk again).
But for others, sports is an arena for social causes and the bettermen of mankind—Jackie Robinson making a difference that even Sidney Poitier could not. For those Patricks of the world, 2011 was hardly a magical year in sports, not with labor strife in the NFL and NBA and a series of horrifying sexual abuse allegations that shook us all to our core. But the forces of social justice still made their voices heard—witness Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA or a group of tennis stars pushing back when U.S. Open officials wanted them to play in the rain.
So perhaps we saw the best and worst of sports magnified this year—and frankly, that's a good thing. When the best in sports gets better, it can lead to seminal moments in the life of a person, a city or even a country. And when the worst gets worse, it forces us to open our eyes and our mouths and effect lasting, positive change.