The Month of American Sports

With college football, NFL, MLB, NBA and hunting in action, it’s the best time of the year for sports fans.

“Well there’s a feeling in the air, just like a Friday afternoon,” is how local favorites Better Than Ezra start their classic song “This Time of Year” on their 1995 debut record Deluxe. In the song, lead guitarist Kevin Griffin sings about a football in the air across a leaf-blown field.

Word has it the group came up with the song after following their beloved LSU Tigers on a Halloween weekend road trip to Ole Miss and experiencing the pageantry involved with tailgating in the The Grove and partying on the Oxford Square.  

The sentimental song endures because of the imagery it induces and emotion it evokes. It taps into the palpable energy that spreads across the country on game weekends. And for most of the country, October is when American athletics are at their peak.

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October means college and professional football are in the second month of their respective schedules. On campus, teams are entering the middle third of their schedule, the heart of conference play, and the pros are in the second quarter of their 16-week schedule. For the most part, all involved have yet to be eliminated from post-season play. Every game matters, and, except for the truly horrible, every team has the potential to make the season magical.

The 2014 football season left local fans sorrowful. The Saints came into October 1-4, exited the month 4-4, and finished 7-9. LSU entered the month 4-1, exited 7-2, and completed the season 8-5. With two conference losses to Mississippi State and Auburn, the Bayou Bengals were, in essence, eliminated from national and conference title consideration with a month left in the season. And Tulane, led by underclassmen, limped to a 1-4 record entering the month and 2-6 upon its end. The Green Wave finished 3-9.

Of the three, Tulane looks like it has the most potential for improvement. AD Rick Dickson thinks the team can double its win total and compete for bowl eligibility. Unfortunately, salary cap woes have caused a lack of depth for the Saints, while an unsettled situation at quarterback leaves too many question marks for the Tigers. Let’s hope our teams jell and get off to a much better start than last year.

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While football is in its middle stretch, Major League Baseball is inching closer to its pinnacle, the World Series. It’s been a great season of parity for baseball this summer. A month after the mid-season All-Star Game, the Cubs, Astros, Royals, Twins and Mets – usual cellar dwellers – were competing for playoff positions, if not for division crowns.

While television ratings are best when large-market teams, like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants compete in the Fall Classic, it’s great for the game, which has no salary cap, that the clubs that don’t have the biggest payrolls are not only making an early season splash, but also sustaining success well into the second half of the season. America loves an underdog, and if any of the five aforementioned teams can reach the World Series, it will make for a special season.

As baseball comes to a close, basketball is just tipping off. Girod Street should be jumping this season, as Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis looks to lead New Orleans back to the NBA Playoffs. The Pels’ pre-season marketing campaign focused on quotes from reigning NBA superstars about Davis’ potential. Already considered one of the top three players in the league, Davis has the potential to impact, if not dominate, each and every game he plays.

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With new head coach Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo offense, the Birds should not just compete this season, but continue to move up to one of the Western Conference’s best teams.

I’d be remiss not to mention the opening of hunting season. Across Sportsman’s Paradise, duck blinds and deer stands will be filled with hunters hoping to reach their bag limit in time to return home to catch a shower and either get to the stadium or their favorite easy chair to catch their favorite teams.

Of course, October means a reprieve from the south Louisiana summer heat. But while the temps cool, local athletics are heating up.

Yeah, you can feel it in the air. Feeling right this time of year.
 



Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.

 

 

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