While many spent St. Patrick’s Day having a few brews or partying downtown at the parade, I sat captivated in front of the television. Not known as an exciting month until Selection Sunday, March has been truly mad from the start.
To begin with, the college basketball season has been excellent. The degree of parity in sport is refreshing. For the first year in a long while, no team stands out as a clear-cut favorite in the NCAA Tournament. As someone who has followed the Big Ten extensively, through my coverage of Ohio State and Michigan State, I have no idea who will be cutting down the nets in Atlanta in April. So many teams could ride a hot streak to the Final Four. As many Buckeyes fans know, Ohio State could either find secondary scoring and advance all the way to the Final Four or flounder offensively and get bounced early. Many other teams are in the same situation, which will make for an exciting March.
The NFL has experienced some excitement lately, as well. Last Monday’s free agent frenzy generated buzz rarely seen before, as ESPN and NFL Network had non-stop coverage of the bonanza. Potential rule changes, such as banning running backs from leading with their helmet, have also attracted attention, as they threaten to take away some of the sport’s enticing aggression. But the NFL has certainly not lost its spot as the most-followed sport in the United States.
Many thought that hockey would take a hit following a lockout that shortened the season to 48 games. But the game is stronger than ever. The Chicago Blackhawks’ 24-game point streak captivated audiences across North America, as fans waited to see who would take down the vaunted ‘Hawks (the Avalanche would claim the honor). The return of proud franchises to playoff contention, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, promises a thrilling postseason. Though my Washington Capitals have nearly fallen out of the race, I have enjoyed watching the sport grow this season.
And finally, America’s game: baseball. MLB has been overshadowed by the other happenings in the sports world, but baseball will be back in the conversation come April. The Cleveland Indians have already been the subject of much talk in Cleveland. The Tribe is finally a contender, thanks to additions such as Nick Swisher and Michael Bourne. Fans are certainly excited: Tickets for the team’s home opener on April 8 against the Yankees sold out in six minutes.
Rare is the month that holds as much excitement as the current one. As amazing as March has been thus far, the best is just ahead. So buckle up, sports fans, and enjoy the ride.