By Alex Norman

And welcome to the down time…

On Sunday the NBA season came to a close with Game 7 between the Warriors and the Cavaliers.  This article is being written before that game tips off, so remember that if Cleveland doesn’t win, that’s further proof that LeBron James isn’t Michael Jordan and that MJ would have won that game playing with the cast of the new Ghostbusters movie.

At least that’s what twitter tells me.

So with basketball done and hockey over with, what is left until the Vols kickoff the season on September 1st against Appalachian State?

Fortunately, you have me to fill in the many ways you can still stay in the sports mode and can avoid spending your afternoons at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

We start with your hipster friends that would like for you to know that soccer does not only exist every four years at the World Cup.  On Tuesday the United States will play in the semifinals of the Copa America Centenario, one of the biggest tournaments in the world.   Interest in the US National Team continues to grow.  Head out to a local pub and check out the action.  Look up the Rocky Top Outlaws, the local chapter for the American Outlaw fan group.

Euro 2016 is also underway, so you can impress your friends with hot takes like, “Iceland has a soccer team!” or “Albania borders on the Adriatic!”  Besides, isn’t it always fun to see just how England is going to lose in a major tournament?  They’ve been doing so since 1776, am I right?

If tennis is of interest, Wimbledon gets started on June 27th.  Don’t ask if an American man has a chance to win it because Pete Sampras is now 88 years old.  But the men’s side has great players.  Novak Djokovic is playing as well as anyone ever has, Andy Murray in the British Empire favorite son, and Roger Federer might have one more title in him.

On the women’s side, if American Serena Williams is healthy she will at the minimum get to the semifinals.  Williams is the best to ever play the game and we should appreciate her talents while she is still dominating opponents.

Ok, so you are asking, what about football?  I haven’t forgotten… how could I.

From July 11-14 we get SEC Media Days.   The head coach and 3 players from all 14 SEC teams converge on the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham.  It’s a people watching paradise.  Maybe on day 1 Florida coach Jim McElwain will talk about how his team will fare in 2016 without a quarterback on PED’s.  Perhaps on day 2 Tennessee coach Butch Jones will predict that the Vols will go 15-0.  On day 3 Alabama coach Nick Saban might scowl at the hundreds of Tide fans that wait for hours for a glimpse of their hero.  And on day 4 LSU coach Les Miles could guarantee a win over the Dallas Cowboys.

The Saban scowl is, of course, the only thing on that list that is guaranteed to actually happen.

That same week the British Open will take place at Royal Troon, so you can wow your friends and pretend you actually know anything about Royal Troon.  Is it in Wales?  Quebec?  Heck if I know!

So at this point you are past the middle of July… not much time to go.  NFL training camps open up at the end of July.  The Vols first practice will likely be sometime around August 2.  You can spend the next month calling into any of the 57 Knoxville area sports radio talk shows and ask if this is the year Tennessee finally beats Florida, and then listen to the caller right after you ask the same exact question.

You can always watch baseball too!  The Smokies (AA affiliate of Chicago Cubs) are only a 20 minute drive from Knoxville.  Would it be better if they were downtown, maybe if the city had built a stadium in the late 90s? Sure!  But that’s another story for another day…

And August 5-21 we have the Summer Olympics in Rio.  Corruption!  Zika!  Blood doping!  Next on NBC!

You see?  September 1st really isn’t that far away, folks…