I am biased on this topic because I have a great love for sports in America. I was raised by my father, who grew up in New York and went to Yankee games as a kid, and my mother, who has a love for the Indianapolis Colts which will never die. As a kid growing up in New York, I loved the Yankees, Mets, Jets, Giants, and dare I say, even the New York Knicks, before they became the laughingstock of the NBA.
I am fortunate, in that sports was one of the things that bound my family, through two moves, turmoil that ensued, and other problems when two young men (my brother and I) are growing up. All problems in my family were set aside when the Super Bowl aired, or the World Series was on. When David Cone threw a perfect game in 1999, nothing else mattered.
However, to the topic at hand. Sports in October and November helped me, at least, transition into the school year. The hell of starting out was eased because I knew the Yankee or Met game was coming on later, and that on Sunday I was going to watch the Jets, then with quarterback Vinny Testaverde (remember him?), beat whoever they were playing. In particular in 1998 and 1999, when I was still adjusting to Memorial Junior High, having moved to Valley Stream, New York in the summer of ’98.
When we moved to California, I distanced myself, for a time, from my New York roots, I pulled for the Raiders (secretly hoping the 49ers would pick up, though I never said it). I watched in agony as the San Francisco Giants, who like me originated in New York, went down to the Anaheim Angels in 2002, and watched the A’s wallow in misery for that span. I enjoyed every Sunday, since once again, it gave me something consistent from my years past.
To my main point: October and November are the golden months for sports because there is something for everyone. The NFL is past the crappy, don’t-count-for-anything preseason, and your team’s win matters. The NBA is kicking up, with stories from training camp dominating NBA headlines, and the season starting soon thereafter. The NHL is also beginning its season. College football is at the place where if a team loses, it is over. Finally, Major League Baseball is in the postseason, ultimately crowning a champion.
The only major news distraction from sports in this span is the elections in early November, though ESPN managed to avoid it completely a few weeks ago. In particular, when you need to lose yourself, it is a very comforting thing to do; just sit down and watch the game.
Of course, things have changed since I was a kid. The media is still ever-present, but I have become increasingly cynical as time has gone by with regard to the media. ESPN’s numerous discussions over Daryl Strawberry’s cocaine problems, which were a serous matter, I dismissed. Now, of course, I recognize drug problems way more seriously. I did not care about steroids back then, but it has become a serious concern of mine; not for the multimillionaire players who will be able to hire medical attention when they discover how badly the steroids have ruined their bodies, but for the young kids who think they need performance-enhancing drugs to make it.
College football has become something I pay more attention to. I am now one of the BCS-haters, and proud of it for the record. It helped pull me through the rough patches last year when I was still adjusting to graduate school.
As we are passing through November, look at everything that is ending: the college football regular season is ending; the fervor surrounding the NBA’s season is dying down, and will return later on when the playoff drives begin; the NFL is exciting as always, but for non-NFL fans, this is the time when interest dies down; the NHL’s initial push, like the NBA, has died down.
I am glad that October and November are so great for a sports-nut like me, and from that angle am sad that much of it is over. Of course, no reason to fear, they will return next year.