“Football Season is Over” was the title of the note that one-time sportswriter and Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote a few days before his suicide in February 2005. While for most of us “shotgun” refers to a passing formation and not a method of coping, the period between the end of the Super Bowl and the first pitch of the baseball season is a sort of dry seasons for sports fans across the country.
The Super Bowl is by far the best championship in American sports. Among the major professional sports—those with their own tabs on ESPN.com—football is the only one with a one-game, winner-take-all finale. The NBA playoffs are ridiculously long: a single team could conceivably play twenty-eight playoff games, more than a third the length of the regular season. The MLB postseason skews towards teams with one or two knockout pitchers. I’ve never actually followed the NHL, but I believe the team with the highest ratio of facial hair to vowels in their last names wins. The Super Bowl is short and sweet. The entire season comes down to one hour of game time and then … it’s over.
It’s not that there aren’t sports to watch; it’s that the sports that are on just really suck. Professional basketball is starting to slump as it passes the midpoint of its season. We know the teams that will be competing in April and we know we’ll have to wait until June to see any good postseason matchups. And I refuse to call the All-Star break sports. Entertainment or spectacle, yes. Sports, no. Hockey is also at midseason (or so I’ve read on Wikipedia), a fact surely lost on readers from states not ending in –innesota or –ew Hampshire. This is also the point in the year when Georgetown basketball usually decides they’d rather surf the NIT than compete with the big boys, and drop a few Big East matchups (See: Rutgers, Syracuse, USF).
This year we have the Olympics, only it’s the Winter Olympics, which are like the prom queen’s homely younger sister. That being said, the Vancouver Olympics have already delivered a fair share of drama. For the first time in recent memory I planned on watching an entire televised hockey game (and almost finished it). I also saw Simon Ammann make ski jumping history and Apolo “Three Names” Ohno continue to tear it up on the short track. By and large, though, the Olympics are mostly puff pieces, frilly outfits, and Al Michaels milking one more year out of the Miracle on Ice.
So what’s a bored sports fan to do? For starters, MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant just launched its second season and promises more beautiful little mistakes than a draft analysis by the New York Knicks. There’s also Chatroulette.com, where you can video-chat with randomly selected people from around the world, many of whom will probably appear on later seasons of Sixteen and Pregnant.
Ultimately, it helps to know that the start of the baseball season is only a few weeks away. Pitchers and catchers reported last week. Spring Training games begin in another week and a half. It’s a magical time, when almost all franchises can hope for a miracle season.
So, fellow sports fans, please put down the shotgun. Spring is almost here.