Is this the best time of the year for sports?

By Mark Nagi

I got home recently from a long day of fighting crime and wanted to do nothing more than to make dinner, give Bailey (my seven-year-old double doodle) treats and hugs, and watch something sports related on TV.

And folks, currently there are many options.  Which leads me to something that seems like sacrilege when there is no NFL or college football…

Is this the best time of year for sports? I’m talking mid-March to mid-June.

Let’s discuss.

First, we are only three weeks removed from the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. This year we saw Tennessee’s men’s team advance to the Elite 8 for only the second time in program history. As much as the Purdue game hurt (a month has past and Zach Edey just went to the free throw line again), the Vols gave their fans so many wonderful memories.

The men’s tournament rarely disappoints, as we can all rally around moments like Oakland beating Kentucky in the first round. The women’s tournament this year got huge ratings thanks to Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, UConn losing short of a title again (the Candace Parker curse continues) and South Carolina finishing off an undefeated season.

While college football is still a few months away, the best we have here is spring football. Tennessee played the Orange & White game in front of a less than capacity crowd as Neyland Stadium continues renovations. When the stadium is fully open, we can embrace the spring scrimmage, and Vols fans have done so.

In terms of professional football, we have the United Football League.

(cricket sounds)

The USFL and the XFL joined forces and if nothing else this gives us something to have on in the background on a weekend afternoon.

But the NFL, in the way only the NFL can, dominates the sports landscape 365 days a year. We just finished with the NFL Draft (Tennessee Vols were taken), then there will be mini-camp and the schedule release in early to mid-May.

For me, the best of this sports calendar is the NHL playoffs. 16 teams get in, and you must play four best of 7 series to win the Stanley Cup. Each of the 16 teams that gets in has an actual chance to win that trophy, the most difficult trophy in professional sports to capture.

Right now, we are in the first round, and games are played every night. From Edmonton to Tampa, it’s an absolute blast to watch.

Scoring is up in these playoffs, Nashville is once again representing, and hoping for another run at the Stanley Cup Final, as they did in 2017.

There’s nothing like playoff hockey, especially Game 7’s. If you are a neutral observer, that is. Because if your team is playing in those games, it’s torture.

The NBA playoffs are also taking place, and if you’ll allow me to be the old man shaking his fist at the cloud, they actually play defense at this time of year!

In addition to all of that, you have Major League Baseball heading into its second month of the season. You also have college baseball hitting its stride. Tennessee has been to the College World Series two of the last three seasons, and Tony Vitello has this team in position to make another serious run at Omaha.

For high school sports fans, in late May we get the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro. Soccer, track and field, golf, baseball, softball… those kids work for months to get to there, and it is a lot of fun for their parents as well.

I know that the Fall gives us a ton of football and the baseball playoffs. And that’s wonderful.

But let’s appreciate what we have right now.

Because come late June, we will be in the sports desert until late August…