June 10, 2008

12 Steps to Football Season

Alright, sports addicts, the NBA Finals are almost over. You know what that means: a long, hot summer of nothing but baseball until the NFL starts. You'll get your fix watching training camp coverage and even Arena Football. You may even find yourself wishing NFL Europe was still around.

Is this how you really want to spend your summer?

I'm here to tell you that it's time to expand your horizons. There is more to sports than Football and Basketball. Summertime offers you, in the immortal words of the Fresh Prince, "time to sit back and unwind." For sports addicts, that means trying out new sports and getting in to sports that you may have casually followed in the past.

In chronological order, here are 12 sporting events that will help you bridge the gap between the end of the NBA finals and the kickoff of the NFL season:

1. Euro 2008 Final June 29
The European soccer championships are already off to a great start, and the final should be an exciting matchup. Germany-Italy would be a great clash of the titans. Spain-Portugal would be a battle between underachieving neighbors. No matter who plays, it will be worth watching.

2. Wimbledon June 23 - July 6
The fortnight is always special. This year there should be some added drama, with Rafa Nadal trying to finally upend Roger Federer on grass, and Federer trying to prove that he's still the best in the world (even though he sucks on clay). On the women's side, Maria Sharapova will try to reclaim her #1 ranking from Ana Ivanovic. Even if you don't like tennis, that should be worth watching just for the eye candy.

3. UFC 86 July 5
Rampage Jackson and Forrest Griffin. If you haven't been watching UFC before now, this would be a good time to shell out the $40 (or find a good sports bar) and start. Rampage and Forrest have been the two coaches on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, so the tension for this fight has been building up for a while. The under card looks pretty good as well, with lots of fighters you know from watching past seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. I'm excited to see Corey Hill and his freakishly long arms fight again.

4. MLB All Star Game July 15
Baseball always seems to do the All Star Game right (except when it ends in a tie), and they will certainly pull out all the stops for this one. The All Star celebration will be part of the Yankee Stadium farewell tour this year, so you can expect lots of tributes to the history of that old building. Even if you hate the Yankees, that should be pretty special.

5. British Open July 17 - 20
Golf may be a bit slow at times, but nothing compares to the drama of the final day of a Major, especially with the passionate British fans looking on.

6. Tour de France: L’Alpe-d’Huez July 23
Yes, the Tour de France is still exciting even without Lance Armstrong. And even with the constant doping allegations. Maybe this year the winner will beyond suspicion. Regardless, the Alp d'Huez is the most famous mountain on the Tour, and this year it comes as the final mountain stage. Whoever gets to the top with the lead will likely ride into Paris with the Yellow Jersey.

7. Brickyard 400 July 27
After Daytona, this is the race that all NASCAR drivers want to win the most. There's so much history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it's great to see the winner get emotional as he kisses the yard of bricks.

8. X Games 14 July 31 - August 3
Like the Olympics, but with more tattoos. And skateboards. And uses of the word "gnarly" by the announcers. It's hard to believe that the X Games have been around for 14 years, but even at that ripe old age they still feel fresh compared to most sporting events. If nothing else, they always exude a feeling of fun. It's obvious that everyone at X Games is enjoying themselves, which is more than you can say for Tiger Woods.

9. Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies August 8
The sporting world has been watching the preparations for the Beijing Olympics carefully for 7 years now. Even still, no one is quite sure what to expect when the games finally begin. If nothing else, you can be sure that the Chinese will make the opening ceremonies something to remember (and not in a bad way like the Euro 2008 ceremonies).

10. Olympic Basketball Final August 23
Will the US make it back to the top level of the Olympic podium in basketball, or has the rest of the world passed us by for good? Will Coach K end up in a dank Chinese prison camp for cursing at the referees (fingers crossed)?

11. Little League World Series Final August 24
The Little League World Series is always a chance for sportswriters to get all sappy and teary-eyed about the way sports are supposed to be played. I don't buy in to all of that, but it's really fun to watch how excited the kids get during the games. Even if the quality of play isn't all that great, at least the players really care about the game.

12. European Grand Prix August 27
Formula 1 can be an acquired taste, but the European Grand Prix this year should be exciting for any sports fan. The race will be run on a temporary street circuit around the America's Cup port in Valencia, Spain. By that point in the season, there could still be a close battle for the drivers' championship between Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica. The narrow street course will provide plenty of action and excitement.

There you have it, enough sports to fill the void between the NBA and the NFL. Now go out and plan a barbecue around one of these events. And don't forget to invite me.

8 Responses:

J-Red said...

Definitely some good stuff to look forward to while we pare back to just regular season baseball and the individual sports.

Then again, there should be enough arrests to tide us over until camp really kicks into gear at the end of next month.

Anonymous said...

"Federer trying to prove that he's still the best in the world (even though he sucks on clay)."

I wouldn't say he sucks. He'd have a couple tournament wins on clay if he didn't have to face Nedal every time.

Also, I like the Olympics, but the opening ceremonies are incredibly boring.

J-Red said...

Anonymous: They are boring, but they're so symbolic and well-attended by dignitaries that they have the great potential to be very exciting...in a bad way.

And I agree that sucks isn't the right word for Federer on clay. He is at least getting to the French Open final with regularity.

michael said...

Unfortunately the only two things on that list what pique my interest are the olympics and Wimbledon, both of which are completely decimated by time zone issues. The Wimbledon final starts at 6am on the west coast, and I doubt any of the olympics will be shown life in this hemisphere.

"ben" said...

There's also the college fantasy football league draft, done via email throughout the summer. Very popular.

big tuna said...

I prefer to follow the Rich Rodriguez trial to get me through the dog days of summer. "ben", a month long fantasy college football draft is a close second.

J-Red said...

Rich Rodriguez's real trials run late August to mid-November. They may not even happen after December 1.

finsbigfan said...


Summer is here and there's never been a better time to try your hand at online sports betting. Place your bets on your favorite horse with horse racing or even try your luck with your favorite football team. Enjoying sport is just a click away!