The uncomfortable sports lull

By Mark Nagi

With the end of the College World Series (congrats to LSU and their fans who bought a billion Jell-O shots from an Omaha bar), we are now in the dark time on the sports scene.

Basketball is done. Hockey is over. College Football is still eight weeks away with the NFL even further down the road.

Yes, we still have Major League Baseball, but even with the quickened pace and games just about every day, that doesn’t come close to filling the void. However, if you look hard enough, you can come up with a few ideas.

Let’s start with the obvious. You could always spend more time with your family! Have meaningful conversations that will stand the test of time. If talking isn’t your favorite thing to do, why not visit the park, cast a reel, maybe even go for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains?

Ok, I felt like I had to present options that didn’t necessarily focus on sitting down on your couch and watching sports. That task is now complete.

Do you like tennis? Well, Wimbledon is underway, so you can watch the best tennis players in the world on the English grass courts. Has an American man won this tournament over the last two decades? Why no, not since Pete Sampras captured his 7th and final Wimbledon in the year 2000. Serena Williams was the last American woman to win Wimbledon, that happened back in 2016.

Maybe this is the year one or both of those streaks ends!

Or not. Probably not.

If baseball is more your speed, you could always make the trip up I-40 to see the Tennessee Smokies play some Double A ball off Exit 407. In a couple of years, they’ll be playing at the new downtown stadium in Knoxville but for now, you’ve still gotta hoof it to Kodak. And there’s a Buc-ee’s there now so… two birds, one stone.

On the Major League level, the All-Star Game takes place on July 11th. The 94th Midsummer Classic used to be one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar, but its significance has taken a tumble because every game is on television, and interleague play occurs throughout the schedule. This game used to be the rare opportunity for fans of one league to see the stars from the other league. It’s not special anymore and yes, you can get off my lawn.

Now, the next week we get the unofficial beginning of the end of summer, SEC Football Media Days. For four days the head coaches and selected players from all 14 SEC teams meet with reporters to talk about the upcoming season.

This event always used to be held at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, but it has outgrown that space. This year they’ve moved SEC Media Days to the Grand Hyatt in downtown Nashville, July 17th-20th. It makes me chuckle to think about the bachelorette parties that were scheduled that same week, not realizing that thousands of SEC fans will be on Broadway as well.

Right around the time that event comes to a close, high school football practices will be getting underway, NFL camps will be open, and college football teams will begin their workouts. So, you see, there isn’t that long to wait until the good stuff is back.

But the waiting is the hardest part.