These were the biggest storylines and controversies from a wild year in sports

Shoplifting, suspensions, Apple Watches -- oh, my!

There's no talking about the craziness that was 2017 in sports without touching on a few scandals and controversies. 

Most of the year's biggest stories began on the gridiron. The NFL had plenty of extra eyes on it this season as players took knees during the national anthem to rebuke social injustices around the country and scathing statements about the league (and the NBA's Stephen Curry) from President Donald Trump. Colin Kaepernick, who began the protest back in 2016, remained without a job in the NFL. 

SEE ALSO: These devastating injuries from 2017 altered the year in sports

Not every controversy was political in nature, however -- some simply stemmed from the NFL's unclear rules (seriously, what is a catch?) or from feuds between coaches and certain "fitness gurus" who work with certain four-time Super Bowl MVPs. 

Though football really took the cake, baseball and basketball weren't exempt from scandal this year. The Red Sox and Yankees went back and forth over the ways both teams were stealing signs, and LiAngelo Ball's sticky fingers got him in trouble with Chinese authorities which fueled an unexpected rivalry between his father, LaVar, and the president. 

It's been a rollercoaster of a year for sports fans. Click through the slideshow below to see all of the year's major missed calls, political controversies and off-field scandals. 

The biggest sports stories and controversies of 2017
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The biggest sports stories and controversies of 2017

Colin Kaepernick, who began taking a knee during the national anthem prior to games in 2016 as a protest against police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S., remained unemployed after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

After President Donald Trump stated his belief that any athlete who kneels as a form of protest during the national anthem should be fired, dozens more players around the NFL began taking a knee. The protest continued throughout the season, but reached its height in the weeks following the president's comments on September 23. 

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, were arrested for shoplifting while in China. The news reached President Trump, who reportedly asked for their release from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The students were released back to the United States without serving any jail time, but a feud began between Trump and LiAngelo's father, LaVar Ball. 

LiAngelo was later pulled out of UCLA by his father without having played a game. 

(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott went through a lengthy court battle to have his six-game suspension for domestic assault overturned.

Elliott ultimately had to serve the suspension, beginning in Week 10. 

(Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry was called out by name by President Trump as being uninvited from the traditional visit to the White House taken by championship teams.

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Derek Jeter has faced harsh criticism in his first months as co-owner of the Miami Marlins after dealing several of the team's high-profile players, including Giancarlo Stanton.

(Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

A feud that had reportedly been brewing between New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's personal trainer and fitness guru, Alex Guerrero, reached a boiling point as Belichick banned Guerrero from the team plane and sideline

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

On October 16, University of Louisville men's basketball head coach Rick Pitino was fired after an investigation into the school's recruiting processes. 

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The University of Tennessee planned to announce Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as its new head coach, but backlash over his connection to the Penn State child abuse scandal caused the school to retract the offer. 

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

During a matchup on October 15, New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins appeared to fumble the football into the end zone against the New England Patriots. The play was initially ruled a touchdown on the field but was declared a touchback after review.

The Jets went on to lose the game by a touchdown. 

(Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On December 17, NFL referee Gene Steratore measured a crucial fourth down call with a piece of paper, spurring backlash about the league's measurement tactics.

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

During a consequential game in Week 15 with the AFC's No. 1 seed on the line, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James appeared to score a touchdown to take the lead in the final seconds against the New England Patriots.

After review, the touchdown was overturned and ruled an incomplete catch. Seconds later, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone, sealing the win for the Patriots. 

The play prompted a call for a change to the NFL's catch rule. 

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Late in the MLB season, the Boston Red Sox were accused of using Apple Watches to steal signts during games against the New York Yankees. 

The Red Sox fired back and accused the Yankees of using television feeds in the dugout to steal signs. 

Boston was fined for the use of the watches and the money was sent to hurricane relief efforts in September. 

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The NFL's concussion protocol was heavily criticized throughout the season after several players, including Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage who appeared to have a seizure on the field, remained in games after sustaining traumatic hits to the head.

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)


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