Moments in 2020 when sports made sense. Episodes of joy, levity and humanity in a most turbulent year.

As these personal stories from The New York Times staff and contributors attest, in small ways and momentous ones, sports in 2020 offered some perfectly timed reminders of what it means to be human right now.


It was a story about the pandemic. It was a story about an antique airplane. And inevitably, it was a story about dogs.

Thomas Warner of Norway won the nearly 1,000 mile Iditarod sled race in Alaska in March. But his odyssey was just beginning, as travel became increasingly complicated because of the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.

Because of border security rules and flight cancellations, especially for cargo planes, Waerner realized " ''I can get home, but I can't get home with my dogs. And I won't leave them.''

After two months of being stuck in Alaska, he found a novel solution. He leaned of an aerospace museum in Norway that hoped to obtain an old plane from a  air cargo company based in Alaska.

Waerner's sponsors would chip in to help fund the journey but only if Waerner and his 16 dogs could hitch a ride in a 1960-era DC-6B airplane. Their 20-hour flight in the unpressurized, noisy cabin led to a nine hour drive back home.

''It's the same for me and you,'' Waerner said of his dogs' homecoming. ''It's nice for them to be in their own bed.'' [Victor Mather]


As a dabbler in the sport of triathlon, I know full well that lets of unexpected things happen on the swim-bike-run course. The waves in the swim choppier than advertised. Hills steeper than what you trained for. Never ever water stations  on the run.

And, of course, the wrong turn.

So, I could certainly relate to the British triathlete  James Teagle, who veered off course in the final moments of Santander Triathlon in Spain in September.

He was poised to claim third place, and then he wasn't. The Spanish triathlete  Diego Menitrada overtook him. And then he didn't.

Right at the finish line, true sport happened. Mentrida looked back and paused. In my imagination, he looked back on the whole dreadful year and decided :

''Enough : Can we not have a good thing?'' And then, he did a good thing and let Teagle step past him for the third place.

Later Mentrida said he was just being a good sport.

''This is something my parents and my club taught me since I was a child,'' Mentrida wrote on Instagram. ''In my view it should be a normal thing to do.''

But that little bit of normal, in a year full of the abnormal, reminded me and others, yes humanity, we can and we will get back on course. [Randal. C. Archibold]


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