The Top Ten Weekends in Sports

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Best Weekends in Sports

Rick Osentoski-USA Today Sports

If you’re like me, your calendar has a dozen or so sports weekends that you plan around. Those are the weekends that your significant other knows are virtually non-negotiable. Unless something big is planned (a wedding, an anniversary party, etc.), you’ll be at home watching sports. Of course, major events in my own life come first, but I like not having to make the choice between the two. So, I figured I’d make a list of the top ten Weekends in Sports.

Before I get to the list, here are some events that just missed the cut:

The NFL Draft- I could easily put it in there, but there are plenty of football related ones already.

The British Open- It’s an awesome tournament with great tradition, but the weather always seems brutal and it’s on in the early morning in America.

Thanksgiving Weekend-  This might have more to do with the food, but the sequence of Thursday’s NFL games, to college games on Friday and Saturday, back to NFL games on Sunday, make a football lover pretty happy.

Conference Championship Week- It’s good college basketball, but it doesn’t really make that much of a difference in terms of impacting March Madness.  If you add in Selection Sunday and filling out brackets, then that weekend going into the following week is awesome.

Opening Weekend of MLB- Technically it start on the weekend, but that’s a bit of a stretch. It used to be a huge deal, but in the last few decades it’s lost its appeal.

Daytona 500- It’s the only NASCAR race I watch from start to finish, so I’m invested, but not enough to crack the top ten.

Sweet 16/Elite 8 Weekend- Great drama, the only problem is there aren’t enough games going on.  The opening weekend ruins it for me.

Opening Weekend of the NFL- It’s a fresh start for every team, most importantly my fantasy football team.  I would probably have this in the top ten if I was being completely honest, but I can justify putting a few others ahead of it I think.

Wimbledon- The fact that I’m a teacher, contributes to my appreciation of the tournament.  I get to watch most of it for the two weeks leading up to the Friday semifinals and Sunday final.  As a result, I get invested in some story and actually enjoy watching tennis.

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10.) Rivalry Weekend in College Football

Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

When any fan hears Ohio State-Michigan, Florida-Florida State or Texas-Texas A&M, it gets them fired up. The only problem with this is trying to pinpoint which weekend is best. The great rivalry games aren’t all on the same weekend, but the third Saturday in November usually has a boatload of them.

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9.) U.S. Open Golf

Tim Fuller-USA Today Sports

Unlike the Masters, there actually is TV coverage during the afternoon on Thursday and Friday, so we get to see more of the tourney.  It’s one of the four majors, so it’s a potentially big weekend for Tiger, although in recent years, not so much.  The only drawback to me is that they make the courses so hard.  Some people love to see the best in the world struggle for a change, but I’d rather see low scoring where par is a good score, but birdies are possible.  At the Open, birdies are pretty rare and even par normally wins.

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8.) NFL Wildcard Weekend

Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports

Just to prove the NFL has the market cornered, their first of four playoff weekends makes my top ten list (so you can assume the other three will too).  There are four games, perfectly staggered on Saturday and Sunday that make the weekend fly by.  In recent years, lower seeds have won on Wild Card Weekend and gone on to win the Super Bowl, so this weekend has grown in influence.

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7.) Final Four Weekend

Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

At this point, people have been watching the tourney for two weekends, so we might as well see it to its conclusion.  Saturday night gives you two prime time games, and by that point, there are some awesome story lines to follow.  All in all, it’s a great weekend, but if one of the games is a snoozer, it suffers.  Plus the National Championship game starts at 9:30, so some people don’t make it to the end.

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6.) NFL Divisional Weekend

Robert Deutsch-US Presswire

See NFL Wild Card Weekend.  Four games, two days, with a trip to the Conference Championship on the line.  The only reason it is ahead of the Wild Card Weekend is because it includes the top two seeds from each conference that had a bye previously.  Those teams are often nervous and are facing teams that are red hot, leading to frequent upsets (insert Peyton Manning joke here).

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5.) College Bowl Week

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

OK, this is cheating, but it used to be incredible.  When all the major bowls were on New Year’s Day, THAT was the best weekend/day of the year.  But now they have been spread out, one a day for an entire week.  It has given additional spotlight to each game, but in my opinion, taken away from the experience of being a college football fan.  Football is definitely my favorite sport, and if given the choice, I think I’d watch college over the NFL, but they don’t conclude their season in a satisfying manner.  It has to be high on the list for me, but it could be higher if done better.

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4.) Super Bowl Sunday

Matthew Emmons-USA Today Sports

I know people will be shocked when they see I don’t have this listed as number one, but for me, it isn’t.  For one, it’s only one game.  Even if my favorite team is in it, it’s a lot of build up for only one game.  If it’s a blowout, it’s a complete waste.  Secondly, when my favorite team isn’t in it, it loses a lot of luster.  This last Super Bowl was a great game, but ultimately I didn’t care who won.  I know people who bet on it certainly care, but unless it’s your team, it’s not as fun.  It’s still Americana at its finest with all the food and red, white and blue, but it’s still number four.  One suggestion: make the day after the Super Bowl a holiday.  There are probably millions of people like me who don’t make big plans because they know they have to wake up by 5:15 a.m. the next morning.

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3.) NFL Conference Championship Weekend

Matthew Emmons-USA Today Sports

It might seem counterintuitive to have this ahead of the Super Bowl, but I like it more.  It’s TWO massively hyped games with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.  If one of them is a clunker, the other one has a chance to make up for it.  It’s the culmination of a great series of NFC and AFC playoff games, and I like to see teams celebrate winning the conference for some reason.  It’s the start to Super Bowl drama week as people scramble to come up with story lines as soon as the second game is over.

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2.) March Madness First Weekend

Derick Hingle-US Presswire

Again, most people would think the Final Four belongs ahead of this weekend, but it’s not even close.  The first weekend has 16 games on Thursday, 16 games on Friday and eight each on Saturday and Sunday.  Almost everyone with a pulse fills out a bracket, even if they have no idea what they are doing.  It’s just constant basketball.  I’ll admit, 10 to 15 years ago, this would have been number one for me.  College basketball was a better product before the one and doners, and as a teenager, I lived for that weekend.  As it is, people still look forward to it with the hopes of winning their office pool, only to have a team they had in the National Championship game lose in the first round.  It’s such a great weekend.

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1.) The Masters

Jack Gruber-USA Today Sports

Since Tiger Woods came on the scene at 1997 Masters, he’s been my favorite athlete without question, so I’ve grown to love the Masters.  Over the years, I’ve become a bigger fan of golf and not just Tiger.  I love all the majors, but particularly the Masters.  I really like the fact that it is at the same course every year.  The other three majors rotate between 5-10 courses, so you might not see a course you like again for another decade.  Not the case with the Masters.  Those of us who are golf nuts could draw you every hole on the back nine because they are so familiar.  Each hole has a couple of historical shots that we can remember when we see the course every April.  It’s four days of golf, on a beautiful course that is all but guaranteed to end dramatically on Sunday.  No lead is safe on the back nine, and it’s a blast watching the best golfers in the world have to deal with that pressure.