Sports fans are having a hard time again deciding which sports to follow. Ah, such problems.
April seems to challenge October as the month that offers sports fans the most options. We just finished a week that offered Major League Baseball openers, always a welcome sign of spring, and the world’s top pro golf tournament, The Masters. This year the Augusta golf cathedral offered a theme of Tiger Woods’ reappearance and ended with a sentimental win by Phil Mickelson. Lefty is kind of the Tom Watson of his era, someone who has racked up strong credentials but who is overshadowed by the top player of the generation. But Mickelson, whose junior golf career in San Diego was a few years ahead of Woods up the road in Orange County, now has three green jackets and far less controversy than Woods.
Also, many colleges hold their annual spring football games in early April, giving fans a taste of tailgating in warm weather and a chance to see what some of the players can do in the fall; high school recruits, of course, are not in uniform yet. I sat in on some of the Georgia Bulldogs’ G-Day game recently, but it’s really a scrimmage that also seeks to avoid serious injuries in a meaningless game. I still say the non-football activities designed to rally emotions among the old grads and potential new students are more interesting. See my video above: great to know school spirit still lives on campus, and I hope it’s the same at all other schools.
(And for the record, I feel the 2010 season will be crucial for Coach Mark Richt. The fans are grumbling after two straight mediocre seasons and watching the Bulldogs fall to second tier SEC status. But the coach has brought in a new defensive boss, and someone who has won two SEC titles likely still has the know-how to adjust. But the SEC takes no prisoners.)
The NFL, which dominates the annual sporting calendar, also raises its head. The 2010 draft will be held starting April 22, and this gives fantasy leagues and ESPN analysts endless fodder to fill airwaves and social networks. But one can’t dispute that the NFL is the dominant pro sports league and markets itself exceptionally well.
And the tournament known as March Madness (NCAA hoops) usually ends in April. So there.
October, though, seems to offer more heavyweight action. Baseball season is far too long — the 162-game schedule should be shortened to about 140. Still, in the playoffs, one loss is crucial in a 5- or 7-game series, so intensity is high in October. Now, though, the World Series sometimes ends in November, which is ridiculous.
NFL and college football, both at the top of fans’ interest, are in high gear. Colleges usually are in serious conference play by this time, and its rivalries are so emotional that it sometimes makes the NFL seem robotic. But the pros have their fans, too, particularly in areas (Northeast, West Coast) where college interest is not nearly as strong as the Southeast.
And the NBA and NHL usually start in late October, too, though those leagues are like baseball in that the regular seasons are bloated and largely meaningless. But even April can’t claim to have four major team sports in action at once. October rules.