Best time of year for sports

I can’t think of a better time of the year to be a sports fan.

High school football makes its debut this week. Those Friday night lights -which have been dark since last December’s Super Six state championship games -will light up the sky in communities throughout the USA.

There’s nothing like opening week.

Every team is unbeaten and filled with hope that this might just be that magical year when it wins the championship.

College football also gets under way.

A sport that used to be almost exclusively reserved for Saturday afternoons, now is played virtually every night of the week. It may be inconvenient for fans of the teams playing, but those who are couch potatoes can become as familiar with Fresno State as Florida State.

Then there’s the most powerful sports entity in America, the National Football League. Don’t dare schedule any other sports event on Monday night in the fall.

The NFL rules.

It dominates the headlines, the talk shows and the media coverage. Just look at the amount of attention a bad team like the New York Jets has received because it has a coach that doesn’t know how or when to shut up and a quarterback controversy, which also turns into a media frenzy.

Football long ago passed baseball as America’s pastime. While many would blame the steroid scandal for the demise of baseball’s popularity, the length of its games has a lot to do with it. Games that start at 7:05 p.m. often run past bedtime. Baseball is one of the few untimed events in the sports world. Yet, it is providing us with some great races as the regular season winds down. The addition of another wild card in each league keeps more teams in contention and that means increased interest.

NASCAR, which well may be the most popular sport south of the Mason-Dixon line, is about to enter its Chase for the Sprint Cup phase, which will decide the season championship.

Ditto for horse racing. Although the Triple Crown races grab most of the headlines, it’s the Breeders Cup in November that is the biggest day in a sport whose death has been written many times, but continues to fool its detractors.

While the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League seasons just ended, it won’t be long before athletes in those sports head to training camp and start playing exhibition games prior to their respective opening days, which are just around the corner.

Yes, summer is dominated by baseball. In the heart of winter, you better like basketball or you’ll be one bored sports fan.

But the fall offers us a sports smorgasbord, an all-you-eat buffet that fills our hunger for sports like no other time of the year.

Perhaps, when that first football goes in the air, we can have Andy Williams break out in a chorus of It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com