There is a popular debate among sports fans over when the best time of year is for sports. Some say the fall ­— when the regular season of the NFL compliments the MLB playoffs. Others say the winter — when the NFL postseason arrives just in time for the NBA and NHL seasons.

But for my money, the spring time, with the regular season of MLB coinciding with the playoffs in both the NHL and NBA, is the best time of year to be a sports fan. Of course this argument is largely subjective, but there’s no denying the excitement that comes with two major American sports in the playoffs while America’s past time is just starting back up. As a casual NHL fan, I watch roughly 15 hockey games every regular season. I don’t fully understand the sport — but that’s something that intrigues me about it.  Overall, the NHL has a strong product, but one that is hampered by the same thing as all major sports in corporate America: a regular season that is too long.  The beating that NHL players take every game makes it impossible for them to go 100 percent every night. Once the NHL playoffs arrive, however, the intensity level heightens and games become must watch TV.

The NHL playoffs seem faster paced and rivalries develop almost instantaneously. As the series go on the teams’ animosity towards one another grows with every perceived slight or sign of disrespect. You don’t have to be a die-hard hockey player to appreciate the level of hatred that two teams have for each other. That tension manifests itself in players’ style of play.

The NBA, conversely, offers something unique to sports fans who crave storylines: star power. In no other sport can one player take over a game the way the stars in the NBA do routinely. In the playoffs, where legacies are defined, that star power makes for some of the most interesting subplots in any playoffs.

Players like Heat forward LeBron James are endlessly scrutinized to the point of obsession.  Stars who haven’t won in the playoffs get unflattering labels that make them want a ring even more. This is the recipe for determined stars to take important games into their own hands.  After all, it’s their reputation on the line.  No one says, “the Suns never won a championship,” they say, “Steve Nash never won a championship.”

Add that to the MLB season starting up in early April and you have a busy time of year for sports fans.  There seems to be a general feeling that the MLB gets boring midway through the summer, when the thought of a long schedule diminishes every contest.  Maybe this is true, but nothing seems to compare to the lead up to the beginning of the MLB season. Baseball, with its beautiful simplicity and long history, tends to be romanticized by fans. Taking trips down to spring training has morphed into a ritual amongst many friends and family members. The opening pitch is considered a “ceremony.”  This means the start of the season comes with all the excitement of a long-missed sport without the dilution of a 162 game schedule.

And so, now is the time for sports fans to bask in the thrill and competition of the spring. It offers as much excitement as any other time of year, whether people know it or not.


Zach Winn can be contacted at

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