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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Ranking the best months of the year for sports fans

The Aggie’s guide to the best (and worst) months to watch sports

Most “regular” people in society plan their lives around events and responsibilities involving work, family, school and friends. But life is vastly different for those of us deeply devoted to the world of sports.

The following rankings represent many of the reasons why sports fans feel the need to skip “important” life events like birthday parties, weddings, dance recitals and family gatherings. For the most avid of sports fans, there are simply no days off. The grind never stops.

Each one of the 365 days of the year represents an opportunity to do what you were put on this planet to do: watch your favorite teams and players compete. Nothing else in the world compares to basking in these moments and reacting to them in real time. When your life revolves around sports, you will do anything and everything in your power to make sure you don’t miss a minute of the action.

So, without further ado, here are the rankings of all 12 months of the calendar year from a sports fanatic’s perspective.

#12: July

There’s a reason why July is the busiest month of the year for traveling, and it’s not just because the kids are out of school and the weather is nice. July is typically the most uneventful month of the sporting calendar by a country mile, mainly due to the lack of sports in season.

Major league baseball is right in the midst of the “dog days of summer,” where the weather is scorching hot in ballparks across the country and the season starts to feel like a drag. The home run derby and MLB All-Star Game have grown progressively less interesting and meaningful in recent years, so the trade deadline is one of the only exciting things to talk about — assuming your team is still in contention and not preparing a fire sale of its best players.

Once every four years, we get treated to the single largest sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup. But the rarity of that tournament and final game isn’t enough to move the needle for July in the overall rankings.

Other than the WNBA, NFL training camps, NBA summer league and free agency and tournaments such as Wimbledon and golf’s British Open, there isn’t too much to get excited about during these 31 days — especially relative to the rest.

#11: August

August follows closely behind for many of the same reasons. The introduction of preseason NFL football gets fans excited for about 20 minutes before many realize how poor the quality of play is and how completely meaningless the games are.

Baseball season is still stuck in the dog days of late summer, as the season has yet to hit its final stretch.

One of the only things to look forward to in this month is the beginning of domestic soccer seasons in Europe and the return of your favorite superstars to the pitch after a couple months of much-needed rest.

#10: February

February does indeed possess the biggest sporting event in North America, the Super Bowl, in its first week. But after that, everything is far less enticing. The first weekend after the NFL season ends might be the cruelest weekend of the entire year for football fans, as they wake up on Sunday morning with absolutely nothing to do for the first time in about six months.

For soccer fans, the UEFA Champions League finally makes its return after a two-month hiatus, beginning the ever-so-dramatic knockout stages.

The only other highlight of the month is the NBA All-Star Weekend, a congregation of the best basketball players in the world and pop culture icons that features entertaining events like the dunk contest and skills challenge.

#9: March

The word “March” pretty much says it all. The first two days of March Madness, the thrilling 64-team men’s college basketball tournament, are arguably the best days of the entire year, as well as the least productive when it comes to work and school. Over the course of 12 consecutive hours of live hoops, basketball fans across the country watch in dismay as their brackets burst into flames before their eyes. The sight of longshot mid-major schools upsetting the blue bloods, and all the passionate emotions that coincide, has a truly powerful way of uniting all fans, regardless who they root for.

March is also crunch time for teams in the NBA, NHL and NFL rosters start to take shape with the advent of free agency and the Scouting Combine.

#8: May

May can be a very enjoyable month if the NBA and NHL playoffs end up as intriguing as promised. There’s nothing better than a weekend afternoon jam-packed with multiple game sevens and watching teams lay it on the line to save their seasons.

The European soccer season comes to a close at this time, as title races and relegation battles reach their peak. The Champions League also reaches its conclusion in May when one special team is crowned the greatest club in Europe.

Whether it’s the outlandish horse names, fashionable outfits in the stands or controversial officiating decisions, there’s never a shortage of drama and unique storylines in the famous horse races, such as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

#7: September

Nothing marks the beginning of fall like the start of football season. College football enjoys the first weekend of the month to itself, with five straight days of non-stop action and rare non-conference matchups.

After Labor Day weekend, the NFL takes center stage and kicks off its own season, usually with the defending Super Bowl champion grabbing the spotlight on the opening Thursday night. The act of waking up on Sunday morning, flipping on the NFL RedZone channel for the first time in eight months and staying glued to the couch for the ensuing seven hours is a tradition like no other. As if that wasn’t enough, getting to hear Carrie Underwood’s new song for Sunday Night Football and watch Cris Collinsworth’s smooth Sunday night “slide-in” is the perfect way to signal the start of a new NFL season.

Baseball obviously takes a back seat in September, but not for a lack of exciting action, as the pennant races in each league come down to the wire.

#6: January

New Year’s Day is one of the top sporting days of the year, whether you’re watching a New Year’s Six college football bowl game, the NHL Winter Classic or Premier League soccer.

The first Monday night of the month presents the College Football Playoff National Championship, a game that always promises late drama and unexpected twists.

January also marks the start of conference play in college basketball and the return of classic rivalry matchups. The rest of the month is dominated by the NFL playoffs each weekend, while the basketball and hockey seasons are the main source of entertainment during the week.

#5: December

December is more about quantity rather than quality, as games from nearly every sport come fast and furious throughout the holiday season.

College football is seemingly on television every night of the week, with conference championships, bowl mania and the two playoff games. Is there anything better in life than watching a Mid-American Conference versus Sun Belt showdown in an empty baseball stadium at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday? I don’t think so.

As the weather gets colder and colder, the NFL season hits its stretch run and fantasy football leagues wrap up. Meanwhile, the NBA gifts us with a full slate of hoops on Christmas day, the perfect excuse to avoid making conversation with family members you only see once a year. The English Premier League also undergoes its busiest stretch of the season, as clubs are pushed to the limit with a demanding, non-stop set of grueling fixtures.

#4: June

Anytime you get to enjoy a championship series in two of America’s four major professional sports, it’s a pretty awesome month. The NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals alternate each day for about two weeks, before each league heads into the offseason. The NBA draft typically produces a fair amount of intrigue late in the month, setting the stage for free agency and the summer league. The MLB season still continues to chug along, in addition to the always-electrifying College World Series.

#3: November

November is truly the “Promised Land” for football fans in America. Just last year, the month started with 20 straight nights of live football.

The ultimate prize of the month, Thanksgiving week, is somewhat of a seven-day bender for sports fans. High-profile college basketball tournaments like the Maui Invitational keep you entertained early and often throughout “feast week,” in preparation for the copious amounts of football that awaits fans on Thanksgiving day and beyond.

After eating yourself into a food coma on Thursday, you get to wake up on Black Friday and enjoy a rare slate of weekday college football games. If that wasn’t enough to get the juices flowing, historic rivalry games like Michigan versus Ohio State and the “Iron Bowl” will keep you stuck on the couch for the third consecutive day on Saturday. Week 13 of the NFL season is the cherry on top, distracting you from your responsibilities for one final, glorious day. That night’s edition of Sunday Night Football provides the backdrop to what is arguably the worst version of the “Sunday scaries,” as reality begins to set in and you frantically try to get your life back in order before returning to work or school the following morning.   

#2: April

April is a time for new beginnings in more ways than one. Major League Baseball finally emerges from its winter-long hibernation and fans can savor the smell of freshly-cut grass, roasted peanuts and hot dogs on the grill. It’s hard to deny the feeling of optimism for all 30 teams, regardless of who’s jogging out from the dugout during team introductions.

At the same time, college basketball prepares to wave goodbye to another thrilling run of March Madness games, and the top four teams in the country compete to determine a champion over the first weekend of the month.

Some other notable events include the Master’s, Wrestlemania and NFL draft, in addition to the start of playoff basketball and hockey.

#1: October

October is hands down the greatest month of the year in the sports world. It is the only time where you can watch all four major professional sports in the same day, known as the “sports equinox.” This phenomenon has only occurred 18 times in American sports history, but has occurred for the past four consecutive years.

There isn’t a single night of the month devoid of at least one attractive game to grab your attention. The entire MLB postseason takes place during October, culminating with the World Series. Football season begins to heat up at both the collegiate and professional levels, and you start to find out which teams are contenders or pretenders. To top it all off, you get your first glimpse at the NBA and NHL since early summertime. No matter what sport you prefer to watch, October won’t let you down.

Written by: Brendan Ogburn — sports@theaggie.org


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