Sport is a forum where it cannot be hidden, where the feelings pulsing in one’s core at a given moment – elation or devastation, delight or rage – can be captured in a single image.
It was there that Lionel Messi, perhaps the best soccer player of all time, finally lifted the World Cup trophy for Argentina. Euphoria, unmistakable.
It was when Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States, perhaps the greatest female skier of all time, sat on the side of the track at the Beijing Olympics after skiing in the first run of the slalom, hiding her face from the world. Disappointment, unmistakable.
Everyone knew what they were feeling in those moments.
Sometimes it works the other way around. The picture makes the viewer feel something too. Like the footage of a member of the Ukrainian swimming team competing in the world championships in Hungary, droplets of water splashing off her body as she competes for the war-torn country. You could feel the pride. Or the shot of two men on the ground, trying to protect themselves from a raging bull in Mexico City. You could feel the fear.
Capturing a moment lasts no more than a split second, but these images live forever. Many from 2022 are unforgettable. Serena Williams in the spotlight at the US Open, possibly for the last time. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all hold back their emotions in the same picture at the Laver Cup, Federer’s last event before retirement. The enormity of the moment was not lost on either of them as they realized that the greatest three-person rivalry the sport had ever seen was over.
A picture, as the cliché says, is worth 1000 words. Sometimes the picture also conveys the words.
“I’m a good curler. I have confidence. Let’s have fun,” Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa wrote on her right arm in English during the Beijing Olympics.
The endorsement certainly helped: she won silver, improving one place on her bronze medal in Pyeongchang four years earlier.
And many needed no further explanation. Scottie Scheffler raised his putter skyward as the warm Georgia sun shone as he won the Masters. Mike Krzyzewski, college basketball’s most successful coach, sits in a courtside chair as he leads Duke to the Final Four for the last time. Anna Hall, raises her hands on her way to winning bronze in the heptathlon at the World Athletics Championships. Hector Neris of the Houston Astros jumps to celebrate his team two innings away from shutting down the Philadelphia Phillies and winning the World Series.
The moments were just that, moments. No more this year. We are waiting for next year. But these pictures from 2022 will live on, an eternal reminder of what this year made us feel.