The 10 Most Influential Athletes of 2020

Photo Courtesy: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images; Matthew Stockman/Getty Images; Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images; Stephen Gosling/NBAE/Getty Images

Months ago, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) March Madness brackets were busted, the National Basketball Association (NBA) blew the whistle on the 2019-20 season and, when Opening Day rolled around, Major League Baseball’s (MLB) parks remained shuttered. For a while, the COVID-19 pandemic meant missing out on live sports, both in-person and via broadcast — a small price to pay given the climbing number of positive coronavirus cases and deaths. However, over the summer, various professional sports leagues returned to courts, fields and racetracks with varying degrees of safety measures and success.

On one hand, proponents feel that sports help us bond and get through tough times — and that’s undeniably true. On the other, the pandemic is unprecedented — it grows more dangerous as Americans socialize, travel and disregard masks, and, if the returns were handled poorly, athletes could be in danger of modeling irresponsible behavior. From the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and NBA’s bubbles to a near-empty U.S. Open, sports weren’t quite the same this year, to say the least. Nonetheless, quite a few athletes found ways to inspire us, both on and off the court.