Thursday, March 17, 2011

The best sports days of the year....

Murray State beats Vandy in 2010 /
Well it's here, my favorite sports day of the year.  There are plenty of good and bad days (or months) in the sports year (I'm looking at you February, July, and August.)  But to me, a few days really stand out to make you want to get out the foam finger and the beer koozie, and just soak it in.

1.  The first round (and by this, I mean Thursday, no matter how the NCAA rephrases the rounds) of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  MARCH MADNESS!  I suppose Friday can be thrown in there too, but Thursday is the first day, 16 games, four at a time, staggered just so, to make for frenetic finish after frenetic finish.  All day long.  Nothing beats it.

2.  Championship Sunday in the NFL.  Barring personal experience, the day where the AFC and NFC Championships are played back to back, with the right to potential Super Bowl glory hanging in the balance, nothing really beats it.  I've heard whispers of moving both championship games to prime time (perhaps Sunday and Monday night) in the future.  That might lessen the all-day football bonanza we have now...but all in all this would only be good for fans, networks, and advertisers, and so I think this is a pretty obvious future move.

3. Opening Day. Baseball may have its critics, but there really is somethin, about getting outside for the first time in what seems like an eternity, to watch the Indians (or whatever team you may care for) take the field.  Still good on television, but in person, there's nothing like it.  The wide swath of perfect green grass, which no homeowner in the US has in early April, the smell of hot dogs, the sunshine on your face as you sip a beer.  I can't wait.

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Singer Christina...Image by Getty Images
4. Super Bowl Sunday.  Ok, it's debatable whether this should be higher.  But having two games instead of one on the championship Sunday, to me, moves it up the ladder as a "sports" day.  When it comes to the all out spectacle of the day, however, Super Bowl Sunday reigns supreme.  And I don't mean Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, or the Black Eyed Peas.  I mean the food, the camaraderie, and all the positive feelings that come from watching Pittsburgh get beat getting together with your friends and family for a football feast.

5. Thanksgiving.  My personal favorite day of the year.  Growing up it was all about waking up, playing football, then watching football, eating, watching football, taking a nap, eating, and watching football.  And maybe another sandwich.  Come to think of it, time hasn't changed that much.

6.  New Year's Day.  I don't know whether to rank this higher, or drop it completely off the list.  Now that the BCS is spread out over more than a week, the day doesn't have that winner-take-all feel.  And of course, the ideal outcome to college football will be a playoff that spans weeks, but still.  It's nice to have a game at 11am after a long New Year's Eve, and even better that it doesn't seem like that game is Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl every year any more.

7.  Masters Sunday.  I'll throw this in over the US Open Sunday because of the wonderful scenery, the commercial free splendor of Augusta, the sensual whisperings of Jim Nantz, and the drama that so often unfolds.  Once in a while (like when Phil Mickelson finally broke through), it also happens on Easter, which makes it a family gathering type of event, too.  If it's Tiger's ball making one last turn, or the Shark collapsing, it's always drama, and always CBS.  (Sorry, reflex.)  I'll throw US Open Sunday in here as 7a.

8. The NFL Draft.  Even if it's not a day that I personally need to watch 15 hours of television for, it's still a huge day, and I'm normally checking in regularly from the golf course to find out that we just traded up for Kellen Winslow, or whatever.  Now that the first round is in prime time, I guess that's the day that's so good.

9. World Series Game 1.  Cool weather, baseball under the lights.  It still has the mystique.

10.  All those lesser-days, which people may gather for a good time and a few beverages while watching the game.  Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, NBA and MLB All-Star Games, etc.  But come to think of it, NFL opening Sunday might be the best of all...