The Most Wonderful Time of the Year–for Sports Fans

The next few weeks rank as one of the best times of the year for many sports fans.

Sunday is the selection of the 65 teams for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It kicks off three weekends of high exposure of what is best about college sports–passion and pride with the excitement of watching the little guy send the big guy home crumpled in defeat.

Let’s skip the David and Goliath metaphor here. You’ll probably hear Billy Packer mention it on TV about 300 times before the tournament ends anyway. Such overuse cheapens the real value of the story, much like terming a 20-point comeback a “resurrection.” Having been a sportswriter for the majority of my adult life, I’ve seen and admittedly used these metaphors more than is needed.

Closely on the heels of March Madness are the Masters and the start of Major League Baseball.

Augusta has already proven to be Tiger Woods’ playground when he is at full throttle. The big question, of course, is how will he fare after surgery and a surprising second-round flameout in a match play event a few weeks ago? My guess is his red shirt will still be the focus of attention on Sunday afternoon.

I’ve heard plenty of complaints about how Tiger is over-exposed, overrated, etc. When he first broke on to the scene, I couldn’t help but sense tinges of racism in some of the criticism; here was this multi-ethnic superman turning the often lily-white golf world upside down. I think the criticism now just comes out of boredom. When will someone legitimately play the role of Arnold Palmer to this guy’s Jack Nicklaus? Or Joe Frazier to his Muhammed Ali?

Phil Mickelson?

Vijay Singh?

Give me a break.

The reality is Tiger’s reign probably will not end until he has a few more surgeries or ages himself out of the game, which may still be 10 years away. I intend to enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Baseball has always been my favorite sport to watch. But in the same way that I love my faith, but don’t like everything about religion, I love to going to games, but confess the sport is a mess.

Steroids. Teams, and players themselves, lying about their ages. A-Rod.

There’s a lot not to like. Yet when I make my annual trip or two to Wrigley Field this summer, I’ll be more concerned about whether Carlos Zambrano throws strikes and keeps his temper in check than I will be about the latest maneuverings of Barry Bonds and the feds.

Yeah, it’s a great time of year to be a sports fan. Just avoid the metaphors and pass the cheese curls, please.


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