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The temperature rising outside in July is in stark contrast to the lack of what’s heating up on the playing field.
These days are certainly the dog days of summer to most sports followers. The sports world in July is wedged between the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Playoffs in June and the NFL preseason games in August.
Baseball gives us the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, but that is only two of the 31 days of the month of July. And those events are on consecutive days in the middle of the month.
Followers of the National Pastime pass their time waiting for the trading deadline on the last day of the month. That’s when we find out who changes uniforms to help another team in the pennant race with the season winding down to a finish on the first day of October.
Interested in watching a fast-pace style of play? July is not your month. Baseball and golf (the British Open) dominate the month’s schedule for sporting events. Those sports, along with tennis, do not have time limits instituted in their games, matches or rounds.
The action or lack thereof can drag on for more than three hours, failing to keep a fan’s interest from the start of the event to the end. Unlike a two-hour basketball game or a regimented football game separated into four quarters, the summertime sports offer no incentive to a player, coach or manager who takes their sweet time to speed things along.
Tennis at least has entertaining volleys and features tremendous athletic plays. Five-set matches are classics as are extra-inning baseball games and playoffs in golf. But those exciting finishes are more the exception than the norm.
Wimbledon, a Grand Slam event played until July 12, is across the ocean in London. The British Open is also in England. That effectively shuts out tennis and golf fans in the U.S. from attending or watching major events on television at a decent hour on American soil in July.
The month of July is all about hanging in there and waiting for something on a grander scale down the road such as the U.S. Open in tennis from Aug. 31 to Sept. 12 at the National Tennis Center in New York City or the PGA Championship in golf, played Aug. 13-16 at Kohler, Wis.
As you can tell, the sports world in July is seeking out alternative sporting events such as NASCAR’s featured race on the weekend of the Fourth of July – the Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway or FIFA’s Women’s World Cup in Canada which concludes on the Fourth of July weekend. If you are into European soccer or Major League Soccer in the U.S. you have those leagues to keep you occupied for the other 27 days of the month.
Most American sports fans love scoring. That means baseball and soccer, two sports that dominate the July sports schedules and often include meager scoring totals, have the same appeal as watching paint dry. Unless you appreciate soccer, however, the game is not enthralling with players scurrying about the field for two hours scoring only a goal or two.
Few Americans would argue that the best time of the year for sports fans is October. Basketball starts up again with preseason games in the NBA and practices for college teams. The NHL also begins its season. Football is in full swing in the NFL and NCAA. The Major League Baseball playoffs are underway. NASCAR completes its Contender Round, one last stage before the final Eliminator Round in November.
March is special because it is the only month that has a sports-related title: March Madness. The NCAA tournament captures our undivided attention that month. That event is a thrill a minute with only one sport – college basketball – taking over the month.
“Thrill a minute” does not apply to July. “Nap time” is more like it.
The Sports Gods made July a slow time for fans to spend valuable days with their families on vacation and to gather their strength for what lies ahead in the fall.
With temperatures on the rise in July, fans are hibernating, staying cool for things to really heat up soon: Football is on its way.