It’s a great time of year to be a Southern sports fan

Published 6:22am Tuesday, July 30, 2013

As a fan of Atlanta-based professional sports teams, I’m used to dealing with some disappointing endings to seasons. Last year, the Braves lost in the wild-card round to St. Louis on a controversial “infield fly” rule, and the Falcons fell in the NFC championship game to the San Francisco 49ers, despite having a lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

It’s certainly possible that the 2013 Braves and 2013-14 Falcons could come to a similar sticky end, but at this point my optimism is running high. After all, the Braves just swept that same Cardinals team, and have a 9.0-game lead on the Washington Nationals. Barring a complete and epic collapse, they will make the postseason again this year, and they won’t have to worry about that stupid one-game wild card playoff.

The Falcons also have high hopes for the coming season, after signing quarterback Matt Ryan to a new deal that will keep him in Atlanta for at least five more seasons. Star wide receiver Roddy White has said that this year is “Super Bowl or bust.” I appreciate that kind of confidence.

It’s also a great time of the sports calendar because high school and college football are in the air again. It’s hard to believe that the Bearcats will be starting two-a-day practices soon, and shortly after that will be the start of NCAA football. I think it will be a fun year. Everyone expects that Alabama will be the heavy favorite to “three-peat,” and I certainly can’t blame them for believing that. However, the Tide lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, and you know that every opponent on their schedule will be aiming to knock off the mighty Goliath.

I’m also intrigued by the new Fox Sports 1 channel, which will be debuting in August and serve as a direct competitor to ESPN. While I like a lot of ESPN’s programming, especially its impressive “30 for 30” documentaries, the network also makes some choices I don’t care for. It seems like they focus too much on the big-market and big-name teams, such as the L.A. Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox (and yes, admittedly, even my Notre Dame Fighting Irish), while limiting their coverage of everyone else. While I understand that those big cities have more viewers and fans and may lead to higher ratings, I also think that “The Worldwide Leader In Sports” could stand to be a little more balanced in its coverage at times.

It will be interesting to see if Fox Sports 1 makes ESPN change any of its philosophies. After all, competition usually makes everyone better.

It’s definitely an exciting time to be a sports fan, especially one in the Deep South.

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