The AFL season is officially over and there is only one more game to be played in the NRL, with the Wallabies floundering so badly in the Rugby Championships as well, it is now the time to start accepting that footy season is over and start transitioning to Summer sports mode.
For some fans this is very difficult, as perhaps they don’t love cricket like they used to and historically cricket was the main way to get through the summer as a sports fan. Nowadays the summer months are about so much more, although it certainly helps if you have Foxtel.
Of course there is one football code that is only just hitting its stride, with the A-League returning next week and the European football season over a month in. The A-League finally gets some Free to Air TV coverage this year with SBS signing on to show one live game a week as well. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on the league in terms of crowd numbers and such.
After a breakout season last year in what was a make or break year for the A-League, it will be fun to see how the league capitalises on that momentum, especially as a few of the young guns of last season moving on to European and Asian football. The Wanderers have sold out of memberships already and if Sydney FC can have a better season too it will do wonders to capture the imagination of the biggest city and TV market in Australia.
Another interesting development for football in Australia is this week’s announcement that Fox Sports have bought the rights to show Serie A and La Liga as well as always showing the Premier League and occasional Championship match. Whilst there are obviously more people interested in the EPL, there are still plenty of fans who want to watch the Spanish and Italian leagues, even more so in a World Cup year so they can see all the big names we will be watching in Brazil.
If football (soccer if that confused you) isn’t your thing though, it’s time to turn our attention to the USA. The NFL is four weeks in and given how short their season is they do a great job of making it feel like every week is so important, especially in December and obviously the playoffs in January. We are also just about to start the baseball playoffs. It has been a fascinating year in baseball where the Red Sox and Dodgers trade ended up being beneficial for both, the Yankees needing to rebuild and Detroit looking like a juggernaut, along with the continued growth of some of the best young players I can remember such as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig.
The baseball season is difficult to watch and follow because there are just so many games and each one doesn’t matter that much, which is the reverse of the NFL. But playoff baseball is incredible as instead of whole games feeling meaningless, each pitch seems like it means the world. As a Red Sox fan I’m super excited to see my team back in the playoffs as October isn’t the same without your team still alive.
Of course the baseball playoffs also mean we are a month away from the start of the NBA and NHL seasons. Even though my Celtics aren’t going to be competitive this year I am still super excited for the return of my favourite sport. There are so many big storylines with a lot of players moving around this season as well as a lot of teams deliberately rebuilding to make a run at the amazing upcoming draft pool, headed by Canadian Andrew Wiggins, but also featuring Aussie young gun Dante Exum.
Of course the Miami Heat will be right there once again to attempt a Threepeat (Trademark Pat Riley), but Derrick Rose is back for the Bulls, the Pacers will be right there again and in the West the Rockets could be amazing if Dwight Howard returns to his form of a few years ago.
The return of the NBA also means my favourite day of the year is fast approaching. That’s right it is Fantasy NBA Draft Day. It has been going for over a decade now and you wouldn’t believe the level of preparation the guys in my league put in before draft day. Microsoft Excel should probably use us in an ad.
I run my team with fellow Something Clever contributor the Piscean Blogger and after an admittedly terrible season last year where everything went against us, we have everything to prove this year. The only concern is my girlfriend having to experience my NBA Fantasy obsession for the first time.
Of course domestically there is the NBL as well if that is something that interests you. It used to interest me greatly but nowadays I am completely out on the domestic basketball league. But that is a story for another time.
Finally ice hockey returns as well. A heavily underrated sport and one that is much easier to follow nowadays due to the quality of TV available. Back in the day it was so hard to watch as you couldn’t see what was going on without big screen or HD, but in 2013 it looks great and Fox Sports actually has half decent coverage. If you haven’t ever really watched the NHL before, I strongly urge you to watch a game and give it a go. You just might find yourself addicted to one of the most fast paced, skilful and physical sports around.
All is not lost with footy going away and players embarking on end of year trips. You just need to embrace all the other sports that occupy October through to March (or beyond). If you are one of those types that haven’t really given a chance to the American games, maybe make this the year to try something new as all these sports are great as long as you learn what is going on and give them a chance.
Here at Something Clever we don’t do Off Seasons.