Seasons of sports: One fan’s calendar

June 27, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 27, 2014

I make no bones about it: I become a soccer fan every few years, whenever the American men or women are competing in the World Cup. I have nothing against the Beautiful Game (football or footy or fútbol, as it’s widely known outside of the States) but my sporting agenda is too packed for me to indulge anything beyond this kind of sporadic soccer fandom.

Football, by which I mean American football, has been my top sports passion for years: College football through the end of the regular season, the National Football League after that. My attention shifts to college basketball once the Super Bowl has been played.

Once, I was a fanatical and relatively informed baseball fan; now, spring is a bit of a sports breather for me. I pay minimal attention to the start of the Major League season, even though everyone has a shot at the playoffs at the start of April. (Actually, my interest is low sort of because everyone has a shot at the playoffs at the start of April.)

Come May, I sometimes let the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoffs hover on the periphery of my consciousness. Occasionally,  I’ll take a closer look if there are compelling narratives. Such was the case this year, with San Antonio attempting to avenge its loss to the Miami Heat in a rematch of the 2013 NBA finals and the New York Rangers seeking to win their first Stanley Cup in 20 years. (For many decades prior to 1994, Rangers haters would boisterously chant “1940! 1940!,” a taunting reminder of when the boys in blue last topped the NHL.)

My attentiveness to baseball tends to perk up sometime in July, when baseball has long been the only active major sport and my hankering for the game has returned. Still, I’ll remain a fairly casual MLB enthusiast until September, when the playoff contenders must perform or pack their bags for the off-season.

September, in fact, marks the start of my busiest sports rooting season. While baseball is winding up to its climax — one that has me riveted to the TV screen whenever my beloved New York Yankees go far in the postseason — football is just getting started. As suggested above, I don’t find the early NFL season very compelling, but the shorter college football season typically offers exciting matchups week in and week out. (There are, to be sure, plenty of mismatched NCAA games.)

And with my alma mater, Stanford, establishing itself as a major college football power over the last four years, there’s a game I want to watch any time the Cardinal take the field. For me, the ideal fall features a deep October run by the Yankees, after which I hope to be able to track Stanford’s ascent to the Rose Bowl.

So, again: Sorry, soccer. It’s not that I’m prejudiced against you; it’s just that my card is pretty full already.

It’s not you — it’s me.

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