The biggest sports let-downs of 2012 left sports fans shaking their heads in disappointment as their favorite athletes, teams and even leagues committed epic fails. For as many top athletes of 2012 who dazzled and awed there were just as many who disappointed and dismayed.
Perhaps the easiest sports let-downs to point out are those teams who were clinically upset in the biggest games of the season. The New England Patriots did just that when they renewed their ritual of failing miserably in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants with another loss in 2012. Similar disappointment came via the 2012 Boston Red Sox who celebrated their 100th season at Fenway Park with a horrible losing season and from golfer Adam Scott who blew a huge lead late in the British Open to give Ernie Els the win.
But not all of the biggest sports disappointments of 2012 came on the field as there was plenty of off-field drama too. The New Orleans Saints 2012 season will forever be tainted after their bounty scandal as will the seasons for the Penn State Nittany Lions NCAA Football team after the school's involvement in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
We also learned some lessons on how not to do things case or these sports fails. Want to completely enrage fans and cause outrage? Hire replacement referees to open your NFL season and upset nearly every football fan not in the city of Seattle. Take the 2012-13 NHL lockout as one example of how not to increase a fan base in a waning sport or follow a page from NBC's playbook on how not to broadcast the Olympics in a world of social media and live streaming Internet video.
Not every team can win every game and your favorite athletes are sure to lose once in a while but as these top 2012 sports let-downs prove, there's a big difference between simply losing and becoming a complete embarrassment that's sure to be discussed for years to come.
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Super Bowl XLVI
The New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants for the second time in five years after entering as a favorite then committing a series of errors to once again go home as losers.
2012 BCS National Championship Game
Touted as a thrilling rematch between two SEC rivals, the Alabama Crimson Tide demolished the LSU Tigers in a one-sided, boring affair.
NBC Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics
Completely oblivious that word travels fast these days with social media and the Internet, NBC may have committed the biggest let-down of 2012 with its coverage of the 2012 London Olympics. Not only did they choose to air interviews and other dribble instead of important parts of the opening ceremony but they also tape-delayed their coverage, fouled up their paid online streaming coverage and routinely spoiled event results for US viewers.
2012 NBA Finals
The captivating story of the Cinderella Oklahoma City Thunder team against the star-studded Miami Heat made for what looked to be a long and exciting NBA Finals series but that energy soon turned to monotony when the Miami Heat dominated games two through five to take the championship.
I'll Have Another
"I'll Have Another" went from being a virtually unknown horse to winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and one race away from the rare Triple Crown before being retired due to health concerns hours prior to the Belmont Stakes.
2012 NFL Replacement Referees
Just a year removed from the labor conflict between the NFL and the NFL players, the 2012 NFL season opened with replacement officials calling the games and channeling their best Mr. Magoo in the process. Among the casualties included an epic fail in a game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football that gave Seattle a highly controversial win.
2012-13 NHL Season
As if the two other somewhat recent NHL lockouts were not enough to drive that sport into irrelevance, the National Hockey League locked out its players at the beginning of the 2012-13 NHL season while the players and league reached a labor deal.
New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal
Allegedly orchestrated by former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, several Saints players were accused of participating in a bounty program that allegedly offered cash incentives for injuring opposing players. A long list of suspensions for players and coaches came as a result as did legal challenges questioning if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell treated the situation fairly and within his authority.
2012 British Open
Golfer Adam Scott entered the final day of the 2012 British Open with a six-stroke lead over Ernie Els but bogeyed the final four holes of the tournament allowing Els and his strong play to win the Claret Jug.
Pacquiao vs. Bradley
To anyone watching the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight, most would agree that Manny Pacquiao completely dominated the match however the judges thought differently and gave Bradley a split decision win.