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The Best Sportswriting Of The Year

One Great Season

Everyone's starting to kick out their year-end reviews. I've got a couple of them in mind.

Today's first offering is a look back at the 12 best pieces of sportswriting I read this year:

+ Satirist Matt Taibbi crushed LeBron James on in July with "The Five Funniest Things About the 'LeBron James' Superdouche Broadcast."

+ Sports Illustrated college football writer Andy Staples told me he'd been waiting a long time to publish this wonderful tribute to his late mother, an Alabama alum whose alma mater won the national championship in January. "You Would Have Loved Tonight, Mom -- Your Tide Finally Won" is worth a bookmark. You'll enjoy reading it for the sixth time just as much as the first.

+ Stories like "Confessions Of An Agent" can often leave a reader feeling like he needs a shower, but in our weak culture of the-truth-will-come-out denials, it's refreshing to read an honest take from someone willing to risk shame and embarrassment. With the help of Sports Illustrated writer George Dohrmann, Josh Luchs' tale from October was a fascinating one.

+ AOL Fanhouse columnist Greg Couch's report that "IMG Boss Teddy Forstmann Alleged to Have Used Hush Money to Quiet Accuser" gave us an inside look at a pretty interesting scandal not involving front-line names like Favre or Tiger. That's why you might have missed it in October.

+ The enlessly debated topic of paying college athletes should have been put to an end after Bill Plaschke's "Paying College Players Is An Inherently Bad Idea" column in November.

+ There was never a question whether I'd include something from Yahoo! NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski. The problem was narrowing it down to just one of his anti-LeBron pieces. July's "Easy Come, Easy Go For King James" was a spot-on rip job on the morning after "The Decision," an event Woj called "the worst idea in the history of marketing."

+ I'm not a huge fan of Jemele Hill, but I always appreciate when writers look at race in sports. It can sometimes be a slippery slope, because your research and/or analysis must be thorough and fair. Last month, her piece "Is Race Still An Issue For NFL QBs?" was written perfectly.

+ You can't list a year's worth of great sports columns and not include something from Jason Whitlock. In July, he wrote "Expose The NCAA, Not The Athletes" after USC announced it was returning Reggie Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy. Whitlock has written plenty about what he calls "the bogus concept of 'amateur athletics,'" and it's always a good read.

+ Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim takes an in-depth look at depression among the macho athletes who'd rather have both legs amputated than admit to a psychological ailment. "McKinley's Apparent Suicide Casts Light On Athletes' Risk Of Depression" is definitely must-read material.

+ The Cam Newton story seemed to generate as much debate as Tiger, Favre and LeBron did earlier in the year. On Dec. 1, Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel opined in his "NCAA Decision On Newton Opens Pandora's Box" that a dangerous precedent has been set when it comes to parental involvement in the recruitment of elite, young athletes. As you can tell, I tend to favor stories about college athletics, and this is key reading for like-minded folks.

+ Sometimes a mid-week feature story on a football player can get lost in the shuffle between Saturdays. And even if you don't follow the ACC, Kyle Tucker's November piece on Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor, "A Hokies Celebration Shared By Family," will have you hitting the bookmark button.

+ USA Today columnist Christine Brennan's voice is an important one in sports media. I disagreed with her take on the Ines Sainz comedy, but no one can disagree with Brennan's "Entitlement An Epidemic In Sports" piece she wrote in April.

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