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Volume 21 No. 1
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Moments that defined the year

The blown call heard ’round the league

Photo by: Getty Images

The grumbling over replacement refs had been building, but it was a blown call during the “Monday Night Football” game between the Packers and Seahawks that rained down criticism on the league’s failure to reach a new deal with its regular refs. Within a few days of the fiasco, a deal was struck and the regular refs were back on the field.

Toasting a new champion
Photo by: Getty Images

Driver Brad Keselowski celebrated his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship by posting the moment on Twitter and chugging a glass filled with beer from primary sponsor Miller Lite, showing the sport that he would be anything but a conventional champion. He not only revved up an enthusiastic crowd at the track, he gave NASCAR an appealing personality that could fire up its overall fan base.

Pulling the plug on email
Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images

Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis unplugged both his Caps and Wizards email accounts, saying he had found a decreasing usefulness in his email exchanges. Leonsis said he finds more benefits from meeting with people one-on-one, being on message boards, holding season-ticket-holder meetings, and reading Facebook and Twitter messages. Said Leonsis: “I have lots of other ways to get input and interaction; this one just ran its course.”

GM’s Man U deal backfires
The massive deal led to the departure of CMO Joel Ewanick.
Photo by: Getty Images

It was hard for some to fathom the scope of General Motors’ nearly $600 million sponsorship with EPL club Manchester United. Apparently the numbers stunned GM’s leadership as well. Shortly after news of the deal emerged, GM sacked its CMO, Joel Ewanick. Sources said the automaker believed that Ewanick failed to disclose the full cost of the deal.

Not in the Longhorn playbook

For all the benefits the Longhorn Network touted as bringing to University of Texas athletics, football coach Mack Brown wondered aloud if he was spending precious time on air that could be used preparing for games. He also stressed concern that opponents may be gaining a competitive advantage from watching the network. Said Brown: “There’s no question it takes away some of your time. And when you do a show, if your mind is somewhere else, you’re screwing that up, too.”

F1 finds some traction
Photo by: Getty Images

Austin rolled out a 3.4-mile road course and made Formula One’s return to America a successful one. While not all the numbers for Circuit of the Americas met projections, the event earned high marks from both F1 and the enthusiastic crowd that attended.

No big splash
Photo by: Getty Images

The Miami Marlins started the season with the type of enthusiasm that only a new ballpark could generate. But the paint had hardly dried before fans saw that the team was going to be a bust on the field. At the end of the season, the team fired its manager and dumped many of its top players in a massive trade with Toronto. That’s caused more than a few ripples among fans in South Florida.

Stopped in its tracks
Crews pack up the marathon's props.
Photo by: Getty Images

For most of the week leading up to the ING New York City Marathon, it appeared the show would go on, despite the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. But when Mayor Michael Bloomberg faced criticism that he favored runners over devastated neighborhoods, he called off the event barely 36 hours before its start. For its role in the debacle, the New York Road Runners faced a public relations crisis of its own and was forced to switch to damage control.

Benson steps in
Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson secured the future of the NBA’s Hornets in the Crescent City by purchasing the franchise from the league for $338 million. Benson once walked away from a potential bid, but re-entered the discussion for fear another buyer would relocate the team. Said Benson: “When I was on the phone with Gov. [Bobby] Jindal, telling him what I was going to do, I thought he was coming through the phone to kiss me.”

Costas takes on guns
Photo by: Paul Drinkwater / NBC

NBC Sports’ Bob Costas used the halftime of the Eagles-Cowboys “Sunday Night Football” game to speak about gun control following the tragedy involving Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. While some praised Costas for his stand and comments about the nation’s gun culture, others wondered if halftime of a football game was the proper place to tackle the topic.

AT&T’s Olympic performance

AT&T deserves a medal itself for how the Olympic sponsor integrated record-breaking and award-winning performances of Team USA athletes into TV ads. The spots, created by BBDO New York, aired the day of the respective event. The turnaround to produce the ads was quick, but the spots left a lasting impression.

Hanging with the mayor

London Mayor Boris Johnson was left dangling inelegantly in front of a small crowd after he took the inaugural ride on a zip line in Victoria Park during the Summer Olympics. He spent about five minutes suspended from the line, but made the most of the situation by going patriotic, waving flags and leading the crowd in cheers. It was a trademark moment of goofiness for the politician, and a demonstration that the mayor was willing to do almost anything to make sure locals and visitors were having fun.