Five Best Days on the Sports Calendar: (Hint: Super Bowl Sunday is Not One of Them)
5 Best Days On Sports Calendar
Perhaps New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady said it best when he explained why he will not be watching this year's Super Bowl.
“I don’t have much of a rooting interest, truthfully,” Brady said two weeks ago after his team was eliminated by the Denver Broncos. “I won’t be watching.”
Brady won’t be watching and that’s coming from a guy who has a close friend, Wes Welker, playing in the game.
I understand where Brady is coming from. I love football and I love the NFL, but it would not kill me to miss the game either. My team, the Philadelphia Eagles, will not play in this game and, because of that, I have the game on in the background between trips to the kitchen. I suspect many of the fans of the 30 NFL teams not playing today feel the same way. Heck, I even skip some of the action to watch the commercials, reversing my pattern of watching football on the other weeks of the season.
I recognize that over 100 million people will be watching but I wonder how many of them are hardcore football fans. I suspect many of the hardcore football fans are still feeling the bitter disappointment of their team not making The Big Game.
Let’s face it: The Super Bowl is for the softcore fans, not the hardcore ones. Except for fans of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, this game is for the people who look for an excuse to party with nachos and chips and pizza and beer (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Until my Eagles make The Super Bowl, these will be my five favorite days on the sports calendar:
5. Masters Sunday
Nothing says “spring” like watching the golfers on the back nine walk down the course in 70-degree sunshine on an early April Sunday. There is no more majestic sports setting in the world than Augusta National. Even for the non-golfers among us, the day represents optimism for a nice warm spring and summer ahead and the end of a brutal winter.
4. Baseball's Opening Day
This day is almost a religious event for baseball fans. How else can you otherwise explain why this game, really just one of 162, is sold out in almost every good baseball town? The slate is clean and every team is 0-0 with dreams of making the playoffs and optimism that this could be the “wait until next year” fans always talk about. It's a long time from early October to early April and this day is a celebration.
3. College Football's Signing Day
There are 125 colleges and universities that play “big-time” college football at the highest level and this is the day fans of all those teams look forward to every year. With the way analytics have advanced in all sports, the ratings systems of Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247.com have proven to be accurate predictors of how the next four years will go down in college football. Now it’s an all-day show on ESPNU. Just once, though, I’d like to see one of those five-star recruits pick up an Alabama or Notre Dame hat, look at it, then reach down under the table for a Temple or New Mexico State hat and put that on in front of a national TV audience. That will be the day a five-star decides to single handedly turn the fortunes around for one school and make a bigger difference than he could at a traditional powerhouse.
2. NFL Semifinal Sunday
If there was ever a made for TV day, this is it. Instead of sitting on front of your TV to watch one championship game for three hours, you get six (plus) hours of championship football. Forget about The Big Game. On the Sunday before the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s Final Four is a better football day. That’s when fans of four teams, not just two, have their day to dream of Super Bowl greatness. You get two “big games” for the price of one and you cannot beat that deal. There is no better NFL day when you get to see two NFL teams hoist trophies.
1. March Madness Opening Thursday
This is the only day in the history of sports when you are holding a pool in your hands that could net you a cool billion dollars. (That’s what Warren Buffett is offering this year for a perfect NCAA bracket.) Even without that added perk, I thought this was the best day on the sports calendar for the past few years, even before they went to that bogus “first round” in Dayton a couple of years ago. The opening Thursday of the NCAA Basketball Tournament is definitely the most exciting day of the sports calendar because, on that day, 64 teams can dream the possible, not impossible, dream. The fact that schools like George Mason, VCU and Florida Gulf Coast shined in March in recent years proves that surprises can and often do happen. That's what makes the NCAAs and this particular Thursday the greatest day on the sports calendar.