The Sports Doldrums

When Tom Brady’s pass hit the turf in Indianapolis to end Super Bowl XLVI it started a time that many sports fan’s dread. From now until the beginning of the NCAA Basketball tournament on March 13th there is not a whole lot to get excited about sports wise. Many fans will disagree, but they are actually in denial. 

What about the NHL? Unless you live in Canada, Michigan, Minnesota or Massachusetts you probably did not even know that the NHL still existed. The NHL has been relegated to Versus and low-rated NBC afternoons. Since the league emerged from a lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season, and an overhaul of league rules that tend to benefit finesse over brawn it has been struggling to attract fans. To make matters worse its most marketable player, Sidney Crosby, has played a total of eight games since suffering a concussion in January of 2011.  Add to this almost zero exposure from ESPN, and the casual hockey fan will not get excited until the Stanley Cup Playoffs start in April. And only if their team is still playing in the postseason.

How about the NBA? See above, but replace Canada, Michigan and Minnesota with Florida, California and Texas. Possibly Oklahoma. Everyone hates that league’s best players are choosing where they want to play. The NBA just emerged from a lockout that shortened the season, and made fans hate the league even more. They also have the most hated commissioner in sports with David Stern. Seriously, a lot of people are really mad with “the league” right now. 

College basketball? This is about as close as I get to being excited with one exception that I will name later. The nation is gearing up for March Madness, and the games are starting to mean something. Brutal conference games are making teams tougher for what lies ahead in March, but also can lead to some brutal games to watch. Michigan State lost to Illinois last week 42-41! Coverage of college basketball will begin to expand as we edge closer to March with CBS and ESPN gearing up for the tournament. Get ready to have the word “bracketologist” embedded in your brain. Honestly though college basketball does not really become exciting until the conference tournaments start in March leading to the madness. 

OK, NASCAR? Nope. I think everyone started realizing that the cars were just going in circles, and they could tune in for the last couple of laps to catch the best racing of the day. The era of crashing people to win are long gone. Also, the season starts with its biggest race. That just seems anti-climatic to me. My parents are going to be really mad if they ever read this.

Baseball spring training? I get a little excited when pitchers and catchers report to Florida and Arizona in late February, but that excitement fades a bit during March and is replaced with impatience as I wait for the season to actually start. Spring training is actually kind of fun, but only if you are in Florida or Arizona to see it live. Watching it on television, thousands of miles away is fun until Miguel Cabrera is replaced by someone minor leaguer in the third inning and by the ninth the whole AA team is on the field. 

So what do I actually recommend watching to help cure the sports doldrums until March 13th? Watch your favorite sports movie. My personal favorite is Eight Men Out. Check out the 30 for 30 series from ESPN. Just pick one, and watch it because they are all pretty amazing. If you have ESPN Classic watch a classic game, or Battle of the Network Stars. Personally I am planning on doing some work around my house, playing with my son and getting outside when global warming allows. 

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