As we move towards the close of another hectic, controversial, spectacular, worrying (please employ another five or so random adjectives of your choice, to taste) sporting year it is clear that we have had some very obvious highs and, yes, some very clear lows.
Same as usual in fact. What is unusual is that some of the dominant themes of the past 12 sporting months have yet to resolve themselves into a clear high or low.
Like the huge flying saucer that encroaches on the light and life of New York City in the Independence Day film, the shadow of the Russian doping crisis has been cast across the sporting landscape for what feels like an era now.
The World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) bold/reckless decision on September 20 to re-instate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) following its suspension in November 2015 was seen as both a tactical move to shift the deadlock of the previous two years and a craven cave-in to Russia's political manoeuvring and intransigence and a betrayal of clean sport.
There was anger, a lot of it, from those who felt that Russia should remain in the cold having failed to tick the two originally required boxes of accepting the findings of WADA's McLaren Report - which outlined the involvement of Russian Ministry officials in a state-sponsored doping scheme operating during the Sochi 2014 Winter Games - and providing data and access to the samples involved which are currently stored at the Moscow Laboratory.
But, WADA's beleaguered President Sir Craig Reedie, that inveterate smoother of feathers, insisted this was a means of moving on from the impasse that had been in place for almost three years.
Yes, Russia had only acknowledged the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) subsequent Schmid Report, which made the same kind of charges as the McLaren Report but in a less biting fashion.
But it had committed to the other string attached to the deal, namely to provide full access to the Moscow data by December 31 or face the re-imposition of the suspension.
Here is the nub of it. If Russia continues to withhold the data - as it currently appears to be doing despite the hair-pulling exasperation now being expressed by RUSADA, which appeared not to have been in the loop - will WADA actually ban the country again?
If the December 31 deadline does make push come to shove and allow the data release, and - one hopes - justice of whatever form, then the September 20 decision will come to be seen as a high point.
If, however, Russia dodges the deadline, but is allowed to remain within the fold, most will see September 20 as a low point.
And indeed if Russia fails to deliver the data and is subsequently banned, retrenching opinion and depressing athletes within that country, that will also characterise September 20 as a low point.
While we are contemplating hugely unstable points in the sporting geography, another major theme emerged in the course of 2018 in the form of challenges to the status quo of International Federations by opportunistic commercial ventures or long overdue opportunities for elite athletes to earn some serious money, depending on how you see it.
The current crisis has its origins in last year's decision by the European Commission which deemed an International Skating Union (ISU) rule imposing severe penalties on athletes participating in "unauthorised" speed skating competitions to be a breach of European Union (EU) anti-trust laws.
The Commission called for the ISU to change their competition rules as a result of the case.
At the time, the ruling was considered the most significant legal case in European sport since the 1995 ruling in favour of Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman, which secured free movement of players within the EU.
The ruling had been asserted by some sport leaders as threatening to "destroy the Olympic values underpinning sport".
There are several other ongoing disputes between sporting bodies and so-called commercial enterprises.
The International Basketball Federation has been involved in a feud with EuroLeague over the sport's calendar in what the world body claim is a "commercially-driven attack to the national teams".
Similarly, the National Hockey League decided not to break its season to allow its players to participate in the men's ice hockey competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, as it had for the previous five editions.
Riders represented by the team's representative body, the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels, threatened to break free of the International Cycling Union earlier this year, although here at least some kind of consensus appears to have been reached with some re-shaping of the competition schedules and team numbers.
And now there is blood in the water as far as swimming is concerned, with the International Swimming Federation (FINA), which last month blocked an intended inaugural - and lucrative -meeting organised by the newly-formed International Swimming League (ISL), now facing legal suits.
Both the ISL and leading swimmers including Hungary's triple Olympic champion Katinka Hosszú have begun lawsuits. Other high profile Olympic champions in the ISL camp include Chad le Clos of South Africa and Britain's Adam Peaty.
High points or low points? It is almost too huge a thing to judge, but a few years down the line we may have a clearer view.
What clearly stands as a significant 2018 high, however, is the ongoing sporting rapprochement between North and South Korea, whose athletes marched as one into the Opening Ceremony of Pyeongchang 2018, where a unified women's ice hockey team took part.
"With your joint march you have shared your faith in a peaceful future," said IOC President Thomas Bach at the Closing Ceremony. "You have shown how sport brings people together in this fragile world."
Within a month he was in North Korea for what were described by the IOC as "fruitful talks" with Kim Jong-un. These confirmed participation for Tokyo 2020.
At the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang a unified team won gold in the women's 500 metres dragon boat.
Since then a joint communiqué from the two Korean leaders has expressed support for a joint bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics.
Meanwhile, taekwondo continues to stage exhibition events in North Korea involving athletes from the North and South.
Similarly clear as lows were the deaths in 2018 of two hugely influential figures within the sports world - Switzerland's rising star of the IOC, Patrick Baumann, who died suddenly in Buenos Aires while attending the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), and, with equal shocking suddenness, Britain's maestro PR manipulator Mike Lee.
Lee helped a succession of grateful cities, notably London, Rio de Janeiro and Paris, earn the right to host the Olympic Games, and indeed played a big role in making Argentina's case to hold this year's YOG.
Both men shared an abnormal level of energy and intensity, as well as an almost super-sensitive awareness of shifts in mood and tone when it came to the extended negotiations in which they excelled.
Had Lee been anywhere near it, a document that surfaced in November on the subject of suitable candidates for next year's election of the next WADA President - which is constitutionally due to go to a Government representative - would never have got off the seabed.
The suggestion, helpfully proffered by representatives of African Governments, stated that Presidential candidates must be at least 45-years-old.
How unfortunate that Norway's outspoken hopeful Linda Helleland, a fierce critic of the decision to re-admit RUSADA, is only 41.
Unconfirmed speculation suggests that the initial wording of the caveat was: "Mustn't be called Linda."
Unsurprisingly, that age restriction idea seems to have disappeared as swiftly as it appeared, but I think it probably merits a place in the PR Fails of the Year Award.
There have been other contenders in 2018.
It did not look great, for instance, when the Tour de France trophy won in July by Team Sky's Geraint Thomas was revealed to have been stolen after going on display at the Cycle Show at the NEC in Birmingham from September 28 to 30.
Team Sky said they had loaned the Coupe Omnisports trophy to their Italian bike manufacturer Pinarello for them to put on show alongside the Vuelta a España and Giro d'Italia trophies currently held respectively by fellow Britons Simon Yates of the Mitchelton-Scott team and Thomas' team-mate Chris Froome.
"Regrettably, during the clear-up operation at the end of the event, Geraint Thomas' Tour de France trophy was momentarily left unattended and stolen," read a Team Sky statement.
"The matter is obviously now subject to a police investigation."
Richard Hemington, managing director of Pinarello, said the company had apologised to Thomas.
He added: "We are obviously devastated about this. We accept full responsibility. Obviously we all hope that the trophy can be recovered."
In this context, "momentarily" is an interesting word to use.
We can infer from it that those responsible for the security of this cherished item did, by and large, a great job, protecting the trophy minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour up until the point it was taken.
If you look at the task in terms of percentages, it was an overwhelming success.
But as Brian Clough once - almost - observed, it only takes a second to score an own-goal.
Last week, Thomas was presented with a replica trophy - oddly while he was taking part in the BBC's Sunday Brunch programme. Let us hope he did not leave it on the breakfast bar.
Apologies were also required in November following drunk and disorderly behaviour during a weekend competition by a Canadian men's curling team that included a Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medallist.
The gold medallist in question was Ryan Fry, a member of the team that beat Great Britain's men in the Olympic final.
He and his team at the Red Deer Curling Classic tournament forfeited their final game after fans and opponents complained of their drunken behaviour.
"They went out to curl and they were extremely drunk and breaking brooms and swearing and just unacceptable behaviour that nobody wants to watch or hear or listen to, and it was just 'enough was enough,'" Wade Thurber, the facility manager of the Red Deer Curling Centre, told CBC Sports.
"There was some damage in the locker room and other teams were complaining about their stuff being kicked around in the locker room."
But hey - that is curling. Wait a minute? No it isn't!
And while in the broad area of PR fails, it did not look too good when the Ethiopian Athletics Federation appeared to have alienated its great champion Haile Gebrselassie to the point where he resigned his position as President halfway through his allotted four-year term.
It certainly did not go down well with Ethiopia's latest emerging middle-distance talent Selemon Barega, who at 18 won the International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League 5,000m title this year by winning in Brussels in a Diamond League record of 12min 43.02sec.
"I am not happy for that," Barega said in Monaco this month. "Because I love Haile, he is an athlete, he knows everything about athletics."
Occasionally, however, the way things are handled can turn apparent PR fails into PR wins. Item for the prosecution of this line of argument - the Battle of the Baton, which took place on April 4 at the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast.
"Very much connected" was a key phrase in The Queen's message delivered to the Ceremony inside the Baton that had been passed on by the Relay over the previous weeks.
It was an apposite phrase too as for several awkward seconds, the Baton refused to yield its contents as the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Louise Martin sought to open it and pass the words of wisdom over to the waiting Prince Charles, standing in for his mother.
"The ancient stories told by the people of Australia tell us that even though we are far away, we are all very much connected," the Prince was eventually able to announce, setting the 21st Commonwealth Games in motion.
That said, with chairman of Gold Coast 2018 Peter Beattie almost falling backwards off the dais with laughter, the incident was something of an advert for what was originally known as the "Friendly Games". It is hard to imagine an Olympic faux pas being received in similarly relaxed fashion.
The Brass Neck Award had a likely contender in the form of FINA which, having blocked the introduction of the ISL's proposed format for elite racing, swiftly came out with its own, in-house event - a format for elite racing that was oddly similar to that of the ISL.
However, this award has to go to the new President of the International Boxing Association, Gafur Rakhimov, who pressed on with his ultimately successful election campaign despite warnings from the IOC that the sport might be dropped from the Olympic programme if he took up the Presidency, given that he is on a US Treasury Department sanctions list.
The Crazy Finale Award - it could go to Berlin's 2018 European Athletics Championships for producing an escalatingly sensational men's pole vault competition. It was the finest ever seen in terms of breadth and quality of competition and was won by an inspired 18-year-old Swede, Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, who followed his first-ever 6.00m jump with a concluding effort of 6.05m, the second-best ever witnessed outdoors. The world now appears to lie far below Mondo's feet.
But it could also go to the netball final at the Gold Coast Games, where England beat the home world number one team Australia 52-51 thanks to a last-second winner from Helen Housby.
Or maybe it should be the Men's World Chess Championship in London, where defending champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway beat the US challenger Fabiano Caruana after all 12 of their classical games had been drawn and the match went to rapid chess, where the Norwegian won 3-0.
For all the mass of great stories from the Asian Games, and two nights of Olympic-level excitement at the European Athletics Championships, the Tournament of the Year Award had surely to go to the FIFA World Cup, where Russia presented a largely trouble-free and hugely engaging series of matches that finished with a dramatic 4-2 win for France over Croatia.
I am not sure what the opposite award should be - Non-Tournament of the Year? - but it goes unequivocally to the "Baby Games" held by the Bahrain Olympic Committee, featuring competitors aged between two and four years old.
Judging by the pictures of one of the crawling races, there should have been at least one disqualification for lane infringement. And there is still no word on what anti-doping measures were in place.