2020 in sports: photos that defined an unforgettable year

Locked in a cycle of stutters and halts, the lights may have flickered, but sport – so often considered a mirror to society – became so much more in an era of loss and turmoil.

Victory, loss took on new meaning as sport wrestled with global pandemic

A staff member sprays disinfectant after the final patients were discharged at a temporary hospital set up to treat people with the COVID-19 coronavirus in a sports stadium in Wuhan, China in March. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

As we ring in the New Year, more than just our view of sport has changed. 

With the spread of the global pandemic, victory and loss have taken on new meaning in 2020. 

As shutdowns took hold in March, the sports world - rocked by waves of cancellations and postponements - struggled to find its footing. 

Locked in a cycle of stutters and halts, the lights may have flickered, but sport – so often considered a mirror to society – became so much more in an era of loss and turmoil. 

It became a voice of conscience.

Here are some moments that helped define an unforgettable year. 

Signs and portends at Aussie Open

While Novak Djokovic may have successfully defended his crown and Sofia Kenin captured her first Grand Slam title, the Aussie Open, in a sign of things to come, already had people wearing masks. As much of Australia burned, after more than a month of raging bushfires, a lingering haze of smoke had spectators and players worried about air quality as practice sessions were temporarily suspended at the year's first Slam. (Michael Dodge/Associated Press )

The world mourns Kobe 

Kobe Bryant along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed during a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, Calif. (Sandy Hooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Sinclair takes over international scoring chart

Canada's Christine Sinclair, front left, celebrates after scoring her 185th goal (Jan. 29); surpassing American Abby Wambach to become the all-time international scoring leader. (Joel Martinez/Associated Press)

Mahomes becomes youngest QB with MVP trophy and a Super Bowl ring

Patrick Mahomes, right, and Kansas City defeated the San Francisco 49ers to win the Super Bowl thanks to a sensational fourth-quarter comeback. (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira breaks own world record

Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira broke her own world record by five and a half feet, after surfing a 73.5-foot wave on Feb. 11. at the inaugural WSL Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge event in Praia do Norte, Portugal. (Armando Franca/Associated Press)

Fury re-takes heavyweight throne

Britain's Tyson Fury, right, dropped Deontay Wilder of the U.S. twice in their heavyweight title rematch on Feb. 22 to win the WBC heavyweight title after Wilder's corner threw in the towel in the seventh round. (Isaac Brekken/Associated Press)

Zamboni driver lives Hollywood moment

When both of Carolina's goalies were injured during a mid-February game against Toronto, David Ayres, a former Zamboni driver for the Maple Leafs' AHL team, was called upon to stand between the pipes and, incredibly, he won. After allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced, Ayres and the Hurricanes held on for a 6-3 win that will forever go down in the history books. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ovi reaches 700

Russia's Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals scored his 700th goal (Feb. 22), becoming just the eighth player in NHL history to reach the milestone. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

And then...everything stopped 

A staff member sprays disinfectant after the final patients were discharged at a temporary hospital set up to treat people with the COVID-19 coronavirus in a sports stadium in Wuhan, China in March. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

NBA goes dark and sports world follows

As the global pandemic took hold, fans were asked to leave the stadium minutes before the Oklahoma City Thunder were scheduled to play the Utah Jazz on March 11. The fallout quickly spread to other leagues as baseball players were sent home, hockey was put on hiatus and the sporting world was suddenly left asking who could be next? (Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports)

Wickenheiser speaks her truth

Hayley Wickenheiser, six-time Olympian and aspiring emergency room physician, sent out a post on social media that was heard around the world. After the IOC insisted that the Tokyo Olympics would go on as scheduled in 2020 despite the pandemic, Wickenheiser famously wrote: "I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity. We don't know what's happening in the next 24 hours, let alone the next three months." (Hayley Wickenheiser/Canadian Press)

Olympics postponed 

With both the Canadian and Australia Olympic committees saying that they either would not, or could not, send a team to the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC finally bowed to the realities of the global pandemic. Handing perhaps the biggest blow to the sporting calendar, organizers rescheduled the Tokyo Games for the summer of 2021. (Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)

Canada's Laurent Duvernay-Tardif decides he's needed more off the field, than on it

Months after winning the Super Bowl with Kansas City, Canada's Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, right, became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season. Instead, the native of Quebec chose to volunteer in a long-term care facility at the height of the first wave of the pandemic. Ultimately, Duvernay-Tardif decided that if he was going to take a COVID-19 related risk, it would be with patients; not on the football field. His selflessness won him a share of the Lou Marsh Trophy along with Alphonso Davies. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

NHL bubbles up

As leagues started to come back, many Canadian teams flew South. TFC headed to Connecticut, the Jays made a surprising, if short-lived, playoff run, after setting up shop in Buffalo. The NHL, however, hunkered down in Canada, with Edmonton and Toronto serving as host cities for the 24 NHL Stanley Cup playoff bubble. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Reds refuse to be deterred as Liverpool wins 1st title in 30 years

More than 2,000 fans chant and set off flares in celebration outside Anfield as Liverpool lifts the Premier League trophy for the first time in 30 years. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Alphonso Davies scales soccer's heights 

Canada's Alphonso Davies, right, shone on soccer's biggest stage in 2020. Davies won world-wide praise for his athleticism and pace as he helped Bayern Munich hoist the Champions League in August. And, in November, he became the first North American to make FIFA's all-star squad. All this, plus, the 20-year-old was a co-recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy along with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as the top Canadian athlete of the year. (Miguel A. Lopes/Getty Images)

NBA players decide slogans aren't enough and walkout in protest of police shooting of Jacob Blake 

The Milwaukee Bucks kicked off an extraordinary day, in which six NBA teams walked out on their respective NBA playoff games on Aug. 26 in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha Wis. The protest reverberated across the professional sports landscape, leading to further cancellations among some MLB, MLS and WNBA games as players from across the four leagues decided that the best way to use their platforms and demand change was to literally stop playing. (Ashley Landis, Pool/Associated Press )

In night of solidarity, WNBA players pay memorable homage 

In an unforgettable moment in August, WNBA players walked onto the court wearing T-shirts with bullet holes on the back and then walked out in honor of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by police. (@WNBA/Twitter)

Cyclist gets 9-month ban for crash that leaves rival in coma

Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen's bicycle (left, back) flies through the air as he collides with compatriot Dylan Groenewegen (Left, forward) during the opening stage of the Tour of Poland race in Katowice, back in August. Groenewegen was banned from racing for nine months for causing the sprint-finish crash that left Jakobsen in a coma. (Szymon Gruchalski/Forum/AFP via Getty Images)

California wildfires leave Giants' stadium resembling horror scene

In September, smoke from a number of California wildfires sent a thick, orange-glowing haze around the San Francisco Bay area, leaving the Giant's Oracle Park resembling a black-and-orange horror scene. (Tony Avelar/Associated Press )

Djokovic's self-inflicted wounds lead to unexpected U.S. Open exit

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was favoured to win the U.S. until he hit a ball in frustration toward the back court, during his fourth-round match, that ended up striking a line judge in the throat. While his actions were unintentional, the 17-time Grand Slam winner was ejected from the tournament. (Danielle Parhizkaran/USA TODAY Sports)

Osaka shows how revealing masks can be 

While Naomi Osaka won the U.S. Open for her third Grand Slam title, she also stood out for speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Tampa Bay becomes centre of sports verse

Not only did Tom Brady join the Buccaneers in March, but the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in Sept. The Rays almost added a World Series in Oct. and the nearby Heat made the NBA finals. And now, as if that wasn't enough, they have the Raptors. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Nadal ties Federer's grand slam record

Rafael Nadal put on a near-flawless performance against Novak Djokovic in the French Open final to draw level with Roger Federer's record of 20 major singles championships. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Lakers romp to record-tying 17th championship

LeBron James won his fourth title and the Los Angeles Lakers won their first championship since Kobe Bryant's fifth and final one, a decade ago to draw level with the Boston Celtics for most NBA titles (17). (Harry How/Getty Images)

Turner's return overshadows Dodgers' celebration

The Lost Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series championship since 1988 after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in Oct. However, their victory celebration was partially overshadowed by the return of Justin Turner, centre, who had initially been pulled from the game in the seventh inning to self quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. (Eric Gray/Associated Press )

Lewis Hamilton's record-equalling 7th F1 title

Lewis Hamilton won his seventh world driver's championship in Novemeber, matching Michael Schumacher's record. However, the British driver left just as much of an impact off the track as he took a stand against racial injustice, following the death of George Floyd. (Bryn Lennon/Reuters)

Fighting Irish fans encapsulate 2020 like no other

Without care for social distancing, approximately 11,000 fans stormed the field after the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Clemson Tigers 47-40 in double overtime in November. (Matt Cashore-Pool/Getty Images)

Adios Diego: soccer world says goodbye to global icon

In November the world said goodbye to soccer icon Diego Maradona, the Argentine great who led his nation to World Cup glory in 1986. His passing of a heart attack, mere weeks after his 60th birthday, left the sporting world in shock. (Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

Romain Grosjean escapes horrific F1 crash

Stewards attempt to extinguish flames after Haas' Romain Grosjean crashed out at the start of the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix in November. (Bryn Lennon/Reuters)

Barrier breaker: Sarah Fuller becomes 1st woman to score in Power 5 football game

Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power Five conference game in December. It was a highlight moment in a year filled with female firsts that included, but by no means limited to: Kim Ng becoming the first GM in MLB history; Spur's Becky Hammon becoming the first woman to coach in the NBA; France's Stephanie Frappart becoming the first female referee in a men's Champions League match; and Emily Harrington becoming the first woman to free-climb El Capitan's Golden Gate route. (@VandyFootball)

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