design: Sam Amonette
permission to print photos: Tannor Lambert
The end of March and the beginning of April are the absolute best times of the year to be a sports fan. What makes it so great is, there is so much to consume in the world of sports. There is March Madness, the beginning of both the NHL and NBA playoffs, Bristol and Martinsville races on the track in NASCAR, the NFL draft, the MLB kicking off, and the greatest golf weekend of the year in Augusta Georgia at The Masters.
I could write pages and pages about each one of these events. But I gotta fit it all into this column, so a rundown of each will have to do.
First, with March Madness, fans get great stories of Cinderella teams making it through upset wins all the way to the final four. Some of the greatest sports stories in history are from the NCAA tournament. The tournament makes a billion dollars for the NCAA every year and is one of the most lucrative sporting events around the world. Coaching stories are created too, greats like Mike Kryzewski, John Callaperi, and Bob Huggins. This year’s tournament is going to be very special because there was no tournament last year. The fans in college basketball are ready for march madness.
I’ve already written about the NHL playoffs and how they are the best tournament in sports period. The most electrifying goals and plays are etched into history like the names of the players into the Stanley Cup when they are crowned champions. Similar to March Madness there are huge upset stories and whichever team has the hot goaltender will make the huge run, like the 2018 St. Louis Blues who ended up winning the whole thing behind the play of rookie Jordan Binnington with an interim head coach in Craig Berube as well.
The NBA playoffs start to heat up sometimes in the first round, but really take off during the second and conference finals before the NBA finals. The NBA finals are a very fun four to seven game series that legitimize the league. The best of the best players put on a show for the league and the excitement and intensity of play seems to increase.
NASCAR is over a month into their season and the freshness of the new season has started to wear off like the first set of tires. By this time there has already been a winner in Daytona and the first few races of the year have settled fans into the new season. With the new scoring system every race becomes more important as well.
The NFL draft has become a huge spectacle over the last decade or so, and it has become very popular on TV (the first round at least). It has become a huge party basically, the last draft with people was in Nashville, and it was planned to be in Las Vegas last year. It is also the start of the new league year, where there are trades, and big free agent signings. This event becomes a fresh part of football right when fans really start to miss it. It is also the beginning of the new league year, and free agent signings and trades become official all around the NFL.
The nation’s pastime also returns in the MLB, and this year they are trying to do a full season of 162 games over the regular season. It is an exciting start with opening day and the beginning of baseball. Spring training is coming to an end and the teams are pretty much set for the long season to get underway.
But the best part of it all is The Masters, the most beautiful week of the year at Augusta National Golf Course. Where stories are created and last a lifetime. Every golf fan knows it, Jack Nicklaus at the ‘89 masters walking up to 18, the return of the roar with Tiger Woods, Seve Ballestaros, and two time Masters champion from the ‘90s Fred Couples still competing in this year’s tournament at 61. The best voice in sports, Jim Nantz telling the story. Over 11 million people tuned into Tiger’s “return to glory” in 2019. Every golf fan looks forward to this special weekend.
I just absolutely love this time of year, all that it has to offer. There is so much going on in the sports world that some of it even gets forgotten, but my goodness March and April are the best.