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Dome Pondering - 2016 Year in Review

Man, was 2016 rough, or what? This year continuously kicked the you-know-what out of all of us in various ways, regardless of your opinion or beliefs on various topics. 2016 was a year that was insanely politicized and filled with death, loss, injustice, and overall, difficulty. As you can imagine, I am not completely sad to see 2016 go.

Nonetheless, it's my favorite time of the year, and of course, this is my favorite - and biggest - post of the year - The Dome Pondering Year in Review (Year in Review History)! As always, we're going to hand out some year-end Pondy awards and wrap this year up with some personal reflection and thoughts.

Before jumping into the yearly tradition, I would like to thank all of you for your constant support of this tiny slice of the internet where I share my thoughts and punch the keys on various topics. I continue to be amazed at your readership, your feedback on Twitter (@DomePondering), and your support in the continued progress of Dome Pondering.

With all of that said, let's hand out some Pondys, yo!

The Pondy Awards

*Crucial Moment of the Year: Donald Trump Wins Presidency

All of 2016 somehow revolved around the 2016 Presidential election. All topics and subjects lead to November 8th, 2016, and the eventual outcome rocked our nation dividing nation, yet, illuminating what the silent sector around the nation really wanted. 

*World Affairs Issue of the Year: Brexit

The vote that shocked the world in 2016, Brexit rocked global markets, shook up the European Union, and caused some pretty interesting concerns on immigration in/about England, and how it all affects the world.

Honorable Mention - Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korea "H" Bomb, and Brussells Terrorist Attack

*Inspirational Story of the Year: Craig Sager

I originally was going to go with his ESPY speech which was absolutely inspirational enough, but everything that Sager embodied in regard to living life to the fullest, and his spirit in fighting cancer, is inspirational.

Honorable Mention - Monty Williams Eulogy for his Wife

*Random Story of the Year: Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando

The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the largest in United States history, just came out of nowhere. Yet, the shooting raised so many issues on gun control, homegrown terrorism, and homophobia.

Honorable Mention - North Dakota Pipeline Protest and Oregon Militia Takeover

*Most Controversial Story of the Year: Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Protest

Easily the most controversial topic, Kaepernick's simple kneel continues to stir emotions among many Americans. I already voiced my opinion on the matter (Thoughts on Kaepernick's Protest Situation).

Honorable Mention - Black Lives Matter Movement

*Most Overrated Story of the Year: Harambe The Gorilla Death

The story alone caused way too much of a protest. As I stated (Thoughts, Honest Thoughts, and Really Honest Thoughts on Harambe the Gorilla), a child was saved, people! And then, there was the legend that a whopping 11,000 votes were punched for Harambe to be the next President of the United States. Yup, overrated indeed.

*Tune of the Year: "Formation" by Beyonce

2016 was an outstanding year for music. Much like the politicized culture of 2016, music followed suit, and Beyonce set the tone with "Formation" back in February. Similar to every music review outlet, I'm going with Formation for its stance on black issues, women's issues, and overall, the usual Beyonce slay.

Honorable Mention - "Cranes in the Sky" by Solange Knowles, "No Problem" by Chance the Rapper, "Waste the Moment" by Kings of Leon, and "Cheap Thrills" by Sia

*Invention of the Year: Pokemon Go

I'm not a fan of the game or Pokemon in general, but you know what? Any game that gets kids out and walking and exercising, I'm all for it. I just can't believe Pokemon is popular again.

*Comeback of the Year: Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Cavaliers

Coming back from 3-1 deficits was the sexy thing to do this year. And both the Cavs and Cubs did it in a way that made for great championship series, and also made for historic title wins.

Honorable Mention - Cuba Gooding, Jr.

*"Wishing Well" Award of the Year: Fix Underlying Racism and Discrimination

This takes home the award for the second year in a row. Just look at our social climate, and you can tell that this is a legit issue. Seriously, a legit issue.

*"Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Kanye West

Always a reader favorite award, this year we tab Kanye West as the most annoying individual. Kanye the musical talent is a genius. However, Kanye the person is arrogant, pompous, and quite frankly, a certified jack-ass. Yeezy needs to walk away from the spotlight to get himself together. He just needs to go away.

Honorable Mention - Tomi Lahren, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Anthony Weiner, Rob Kardashian, Amy Schumer, and Lena Dunham.

*"Largest Fortitude" Award of the Year: Chicago Cubs

Do you know what amazes me more than the Cubs just simply breaking the 108-year curse? The fact that they were the best team in baseball, had the pressure of being the best team along with the curse, falling to a 3-1 deficit in the World Series, and STILL living up to the expectations of winning it all.

*"We'll Miss You" Award of the Year: Everyone in 2016

Man, was 2016 mean to us with the deaths and retirements, or what? Rather than pinpointing one or two, I'm just giving it to everyone. We all suffered. We lost so many. I miss everyone and everything.

*"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: Flint, Michigan Political Representatives

This was one of those stories that infuriated me in 2016. How the hell does a political representative - or check that - any human being willingly know about tainted water supply to an entire area of people and NOT do anything about it? Ugh...I can't. 

*"What a Shame" Award of the Year: North Dakota Pipeline Protest

Not only is it terrible we took their land away once, of course in a major way, but we are now once again trying to take away the little land they have left. Such a shame. Shame on us.

Honorable Mention - Brock Turner Trial Verdict, Innocent Black Men and Innocent Police killings, and Evidence Penn State Knew about Molestation

*"Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter was out and front this year on several platforms. And much like everything else, it was heavily politicized as the narrative changed (really, it was distorted) with opposition regarding "All Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter".

Honorable Mention - Te-Nehisi Coates, Fake News, Trevor Noah, Tomi Lahren, Megyn Kelly, Alec Baldwin's Trump Impersonation, and Kylie Bunbury

*"This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: NFL Scrutiny of Head Injuries

I haven't watched an NFL game all year long. Seriously, all year. Much of it has to do with the way the NFL has dealt with CTE issues regarding their players, and their continued efforts to cover it up. Those same feelings are beginning to spread, especially as more information is released.

*"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt

What Phelps and Bolt accomplished at this year's Summer Olympics was absolutely incredible. Continuing to dominate in their sports, especially at their age - remarkable, amazing, and yes, incredible.

Honorable Mention - Golden State Warriors 73-win season, Theo Epstein, Super Moon, and Katie Ledecky

*"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Divided America

Ah, mean, come on. This one is pretty obvious, and pretty evident.

*Biggest Letdown of the Year: Kevin Durant

We've been through this before with LeBron James going to the Heat. But this one goes beyond that scenario as Durant joined an already record-breaking 73-win team. It's just a bad optic (Not Bad, Just Disappointed), and really, for me, as an NBA fan, a huge letdown.

Honorable Mention - Golden State Warriors

*Idiot of the Year: Non-Voters

First, let me just say, Brock Turner's father is an absolute moron for his comments earlier this year. He goes beyond idiot. However, with that said, those who decided not to vote in this year's presidential election are the idiots of the year. A clear disrespect for the fight of the past to vote. And an utter defiance for understanding the power that you have to make a change.

Honorable Mention - Brock Turner's Father, Nick Saban, Ryan Lochte, and Dani Mathers

*Dome Pondering Person of the Year: You, The Activist

This year's DP Person of the Year goes to You, The Activist. And by that, I mean those who took a stand against oppressive systems or unfair issues in our country. 2016 was easily a year of politics, protests, and fighting for a better country - however, you view that. Those who decided to take to the streets, to educate themselves and others, and yes, to even take a knee, helped to bring various needed issues to the forefront of our society's conscience, and to the seats of our dinner tables.

Being "Woke" wasn't just a description or sense of enlightenment, but it was a movement, a necessity, and a purpose. Thanks to You, The Activist, for the fight.

*Pay Per View Event of the Year: NXT Takeover: Toronto

I don't watch NXT frequently but love their specials. Survivor Series weekend was so much fun as the WWE completely knocked it out of the park. Prior to the main show, NXT Takeover: Toronto lit it up with an awesome show spurred by my match of the year selection.

Honorable Mentions - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10, TNA Slammiversary, and WWE Survivor Series

*Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: The Revival vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Takeover: Toronto - 2 out 3 Falls Tag Team Match)

This match was fantastic - obviously. The whole thing felt so old school, especially when considering the backstory leading up to this two-out-of-three contest. With the new fad in pro wrestling being six-man tag team matches, this contest restored a belief that good tag-team matches are possible, and are thoroughly entertaining.

Honorable Mention - Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW - Wrestle Kingdom 10), Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (WWE RoadBlock - Ironman Match), Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz (WWE No Mercy), AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE TLC - TLC Match), and Drew Galloway vs. Bobby Lashley (TNA Slammiversary).

*Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: The New Day (WWE)

Such an incredibly easy pick. The New Day dominated, entertained, and set records with their title run for the second year in a row. Everyone else wasn't even close.

Honorable Mention - The Young Bucks (NJPW and ROH), The Revival (NXT), and The Decay (TNA)

*Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: Charlotte (WWE)

Charlotte not only developed an awesome character that carries many similarities, gestures, and mannerisms to her father, but she delivered in some pretty damn entertaining matches. Charlotte also included firsts in the business with her Hell in a Cell and Ironman matches with Sasha Banks to her resume, which both broke barriers.

Honorable Mention - Sasha Banks (WWE) and Becky Lynch (WWE)

*Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles (WWE) and Matt Hardy (WWE)

I couldn't decide and definitely had to give this award to both. On one hand, there is AJ Styles who debuted in January and grew into the most entertaining and athletic talent on the WWE roster. After all, if you're familiar with Styles' history, that wouldn't be a shock. We all knew his capabilities if he was given a legit chance to run with the ball. Styles definitely did, and had some epic matches with John Cena and Dean Ambrose, including his awesome taglines of being the "face that runs the place" and "Beat up John Cena". Loved both. 

And then there is Matt Hardy who has become the best character in pro wrestling over the past five years. "Broken" Matt Hardy is beyond description, as it wouldn't do it justice for me to describe it here. Everything that encompasses Matt Hardy this year, and as of late, is must-see.

Honorable Mention - Bobby Lashley (TNA), Kevin Owens (WWE), and Jay Lethal (ROH)

*Sport Event of the Year: The World Series - Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians

Who wasn't glued to this series? One of the best World Series in my lifetime. And one of the best championship-deciding rounds I've ever seen as well.

Honorable Mention - NBA Finals and The Summer Olympics

*The Derek Jeter Flip Play Award of the Year: LeBron James' Block on Andre Iguodala

LeBron, man. Lebron. That's all that is needed to be said.

*Coach of the Year: Joe Maddon

Ok, so being the manager of the Chicago Cubs team to finally break the long curse is enough to earn this award. But Maddon did so with a young team, and also did so by keeping a team believing when they were down 3-1.

And oh yeah, he did so with all of his unorthodox managing abilities, some of it, which flies in the face of statistics and baseball traditions. It's Maddon's second Pondy for Coach of the Year. And my goodness, he REALLY deserves this one.

*Team of the Year: Chicago Cubs

Um, duh.

Honorable Mention - Cleveland Cavaliers and UCONN Women's Basketball Team

*Dome Pondering Athlete of the Year: LeBron James

How can you hate on LeBron James after 2016? I mean, seriously? The man brought a championship to Cleveland. That is all that needs to be said. He did the one thing that would solidify his star, the one thing that was deemed impossible. And yeah, he did that by leading a team that was down 3-1, against a Golden State Warriors squad that won 73 games.

LeBron. 2016. Mic Drop.

Honorable Mention - Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, and Conor McGregor


The Final Countdown...

I very much look forward to closing the door in 2016. I know it's not particularly "good" or "wise" to want to move time forward or not appreciate the time we have because of how very precious it is, but 2016 was rough. No, no, 2016 was tough. And in some ways, yes, 2016 just flat-out beat the you-know-what out of me. 

I found myself in late November realizing just how much of a toll this calendar year had on me. I became cold. I became in some cases bitter. And overall, things just didn't feel as hopeful, as motivating, or as positive. 2016 did that. 

There were countless deaths of recognizable faces from my childhood in the news. We know the names. And quite frankly, a few of them continue to fade away in the days I prepare this YIR. Deaths filled 2016 with this ever-constant reminder of how short life was, but really, hungover our newsreels and feeds like a dark cloud ready to pour rain (maybe purple rain? RIP Prince) at any moment. 

And then, there was the ever-hyper-politicized world of 2016. EVERYTHING was political in 2016. Protests, award shows, speeches, viral videos, football games, books, music - everything. And how can it not be? 2016 for me, personally, revealed so many truths about thoughts I observed and had while growing up in Brooklyn, NY. For me, many things just didn't make sense when you looked at the neighborhood I grew up in, compared to those you saw on TV or visited just across town. That's where my social justice interest really started. 

Those very intuitions became activated in 2016 more than ever, again, just like everything and everyone else. Watching black men die without any real sense of loss from our nation along with the continued growing socioeconomic disparity in our country will do that. Oh, and there was something called the Presidential election which electrified and magnified it all. 

There was also terrorism. Orlando. Brussels. Nice. Northern Africa. California. New York. New Jersey. Turkey. Syria. And so much more. Again, it was everywhere. 

2016 continued to eat my soul in a heavy way constantly reminding me of the tremendously wicked world we live in, and how much more wicked it can be for simply being who you are, or what you are. By late November, I wasn't numb to it, but I was mentally defeated. I was left with a cold heart, and bitter with the situation. In some ways, angry with the world. I wanted to help the situation more than I ever did. But, really, what can I do? This is America. This is the way it is. This is our world. This is the way it is. 

This was especially heightened when I was around white privilege, or those who had - of course, in my opinion - insensitive, illogical, insensitive, or merely ignorant social justice views or beliefs. I still remember someone this year stating, "I just don't think black people have taken advantage of the opportunity given to them since slavery ended." Umm, yeah, thank you so much for the freedom, we'll do better. It was the type of cold-hearted mindset that led me to close my already small inner circle of people. 

Not only did I constantly digest and have to come to grips with the happenings in the world, but also had to explain and lead thoughtful discussions for my students, a generation possibly more infuriated and confused than I was. I still carry this statement from one of them, "how can people believe that? That's just wrong. So wrong!" It's simple, yet, so complex. 2016 showed us that right and wrong aren't as clear as we thought, and it depends on perspective - or again, who you are. 

And of course, there was my personal life that included the continued decline of my father's health in dealing with early dementia, as well as the shocker of having my estranged brother reach out to the family after fifteen years. If you're lost on that family storyline, you can read it here

In 2016, through these "rights and wrongs" and attempting to wrap my mind around them all after an incredibly tough year, I was left to wrap up the year accurately with a more precise capture of my feelings for 2016 with lyrics from one of my favorite songs:
"Let's make a list of all the things the world has put you through
Let's raise a glass to all the people you're not speaking to
I don't know what else you wanted me to say to you
Things happen, that's all they ever do" 
-"Things Happen" By Dawes

And my goodness, that's all they ever do. I pray constantly that I can understand what has happened in 2016. Even on these closing days of the year, I can't and don't understand it all. And as difficult as it's been, the understanding part is probably the most difficult to deal with. 

"Why, Lord? Why?" was repeatedly uttered under my breath over the past twelve months. 

Regardless, the end is here, and already, the psychological beginning of a new year already offers a fresh canvas, a fresh sense of beginning, and a clear mental landscape. I'm already beginning to feel better. And if you, like me, felt the same way in 2016, I hope you get to that point of resetting and refreshing your will, your conscience, and your soul. I've learned since late November in that moment of clarity, that there is a balance between wanting things to get better, and also enjoying the time you do have on earth. Because for every injustice incident, there is a death or a sudden terror attack. And in my case, a father who loses part of himself every time the second-hand moves. 

Life is tremendously and utterly cruel, sudden, and most of all, short. Don't waste it on attempting to understand it because yes, things happen, that's all they'll ever do. Just trust God, and let go. Just let go. 

In 2017, how will you respond? 

Happy New Year!

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