This first Thursday and Friday of the Tournament is absolutely invigorating watching. There’s nothing that cuts through the cynicism and bad feelings that surround college sports (well, mostly – http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/college/basketball/view.bg?articleid=1061117599&srvc=sports&position=recent) than watching the youthful vigor and enthusiasm of these 64 teams at work.
So, if March Madness is our consensus #1 on the American sporting calendar, where do those other high-attention days rank for the country? Here’s our list; feel free to agree (or disagree).
#1 – MARCH MADNESS OPENING DAYS – For all the reasons detailed above. There’s nothing as invigorating as watching these kids play. And no, we’re absolutely not writing this while we’re distracted by opening-day games at work…
#2 – BASEBALL OPENING DAY – As Pete Rose once said, “It’s like Christmas, except it’s warmer.” Major League Baseball’s done it’s damndest to try to poison this hallowed tradition by doing the “opening night” nonsense, but few things can match the sheer thrill and pure chills of seeing the first pitch on that green grass (or astroturf, whatever) for the first time all year. It’s the real end of winter and the beginning of summer – what a perfect metaphor.
#3 – WORLD CUP FINALE – We’ll cop to being ambivalent about soccer, but the last World Cup won us over. It helps that ABC and ESPN have put together an absolute top-notch presentation package, and the sheer, gargantuan spectacle – the whole world really IS watching – brings this all the way up to no. 3. The Cup in 2014 will be an absolute blast. Imagine if America ever got to the finale. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTIlZoGp68I)
#4 – USA! USA! – It’s a cop-out, but this one stands for “any big Olympic match.” It’s always special to root for a team; it’s different, though, when that team (or that individual) is wearing the colors of your country. There’s always room for some patriotism. Just wait and see how excited America will be for Michael Phelps and that ridiculous collection of basketball talent on display for the Olympics in a few months. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSkc6c35A4Q)
#5 – SUPER SUNDAY – Here’s the weird thing: the games, recently, have been a lot better than they used to be. Just look over the last decade. Patriots-Rams, Patriots-Panthers, Steelers-Cardinals, Saints – Colts, both Patriots-Giants games … all classics. It’s sure a lot better than that putrid stretch of the 1990s, beginning with the ritualistic Buffalo Bills beat-downs and ending with those terrible 49ers – Chargers Superbowl. However, while the games have gotten better, everything else has just gotten worse. Too much hype, too much coverage, too many gimmicks; now, the Superbowl just seems more like a chore to watch than a pure viewing pleasure. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZCG0twzblM)