With the NBA Draft, NBA Finals, and, really, this year’s entire thrilling NBA postseason now over, it’s time to roll into the leanest and meanest days of the summer months.
Football has not arrived yet and baseball is not quite deep enough into its season to be interesting to the casual fan. Sure, the annual All-Star Game provides a nice mid-summer highlight, especially this year, when the festivities came to Kansas City, Mo. But, other than that, the month of July is one of the toughest turns of the calendar for sports fans.
This latest realization about what’s coming up — or what isn’t — got me thinking about how sports are such a cyclical force that keeps fans entertained one minute and looking ahead the next. When March Madness is over, we long for Opening Day. When the clock reads 00:00 at the Super Bowl, we start gearing up for Big Monday and the thick of the college basketball season. It’s a never-ending cycle, and it’s fascinating enough to offer up a variety of great moments throughout the year. Where those moments pop up and when one’s favorites take place is different for everyone and, of course, depends on taste. With that in mind, here’s how I rank the 12 months of the year based on the sports thrills they provide.
1) January: As against-the-grain as this may be, January is at the top of my list because of its variety. The NFL playoffs and Super Bowl, along with the NCAA national championship game, make football wildly entertaining. When those games aren’t going, there’s usually some pretty good conference play on the college hoops circuit to keep you happy.
2) March: This is the most obvious choice, and, I’m guessing, the favorite month of most who read this website. I’m right there with you. Nothing in sports is cooler than March Madness, the kind of postseason format that grabs both fanatics and non-fans alike. I bet you’re thinking about your bracket already.
3) November: November gets the edge at No. 3 because not only are we in the heart of football season, but we’re also tipping off the college basketball season. Plus, who can resist all of those early college basketball tournaments? Strong month.
4) September: One of the only things better than the end of the pro and college football seasons is the beginning of each. September delivers both, and we football freaks often are treated to some incredible games right out of the gate.
5) October: Baseball is finally meaningful again, and October is when nicknames like Mr. October are born and World Series champions are crowned. Oh yeah, there also are a few meaningful football games sprinkled in, which makes for non-stop action no matter what day of the week you’re talking.
6) June: In a month dominated by the NBA — the playoffs and finals roll on for weeks and the draft closes the month — June also offers a couple of underrated events. The College World Series in Omaha, Neb., is something you have to see once in your life, golf’s U.S. Open delivers nearly every year, and the NHL playoffs give us an endless stretch of bone-crushing hits, game-winning goals and post-series handshakes.
7) August: NFL training camps are in full swing, and you know what that means — it’s time for quarterback controversies to heat up and fantasy football geeks to get serious.
8) February: It’s not as if every game is a must-watch, but it’s tough to beat the thrill of college basketball’s stretch run and the conference tournaments that follow. Think KU-MU, Feb. 25, 2012. Beyond games and moments like that, February’s Daytona 500 marks the beginning of the Sprint Cup season. That doesn’t do much for me, but its popularity cannot be denied.
9) December: Dubbed by ESPN as “the most wonderful time of the year,” Bowl Week still scratches the itch for a lot of sports fans. Doesn’t matter if it’s your favorite team or that rare match-up you’re dying to see, college football usually offers at least a few great games in December. Of course, if that doesn’t do it for you, the drama of the NFL season can heat up those Sundays in December.
10) April: If it weren’t for the NFL Draft, April probably would be even lower on my list. But I love the draft and so do millions of others. Maybe you don’t watch every minute of it, but I know you care. April also brings The Masters and hope to all 30 Major League Baseball teams, which at least makes it exciting for a while.
11) May: If not for the NBA playoffs, May would be as bad as July.
12) July: If you’re a big-time baseball fan, I’m sure July is higher on your list. If you’re not, there’s not much to get excited about. But, hey, at least this year we’ll have London’s summer Olympics in July — for four days. Score another one for August, which, after today, is only 16 days away.