Even rock dwellers know there is a kind-of-a-big-deal football game this Sunday, February 4th. It’s the last real competitive football game for Americans to take in until the 1st of September when collegiate ball takes center stage.
The Super Bowl has become a national albeit unofficial holiday here in the states. Don’t believe me? According to Statista, Americans will spend almost $90 on average partaking in Super Bowl festivities. That’s on par with and even exceeds Halloween spending. It really is in a commercial league of its own with consumers. This Sunday will be the 52nd edition of the single greatest event in American sports.
But the Super Bowl is not alone. There’s a handful of other sporting events granted a special holiday-like reverence in many lives. They have become so entrenched in American society, even the most casual fans will tune in. Many may have a horse in the race (literally and figuratively) but often even nonfans will be glued to the TV. Or laptop. Or Smartphone. Or radio. You get the idea.
These five American sporting events happen every year just like Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. None of them are given an “official” holiday standing but they are certainly treated as such by millions of consumers. Sports have become so ingrained in our culture, it was difficult to whittle down the list but here are my best of the best.
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY
The sporting event so infamous it needs no introduction. So what if I spent my introduction talking about it. The day all sports fans rejoice it seems. The day liquor stores and pizza joints can’t keep up with demand. The day fans of two teams are joined by the other 30 NFL fanbases in addition to sports bettors around the world.
The Super Bowl is hands down one of the most-watched sporting events in any given year, certainly domestically speaking but globally as well. It comes second only to the UEFA Champions League soccer celebration in terms of global viewership.
The representatives in the Super Bowl can often dictate things like TV ratings and fandom as well. This year should be no exception. The New England Patriots are in for a second straight year, a record 10th time overall, looking to repeat as champions. The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, are looking to capture that illustrious first after coming up short in their first two trips. It’s safe to say that a number of fans will be pulling for the perceived underdog Eagles.
Simply put, it does not get any better than the Super Bowl.
BASEBALL OPENING DAY
When it comes to the first official day of a new regular season among the four major professional sports in America, baseball’s Opening Day takes the cake. I mean, there’s a reason it is “America’s pastime.”
Now technically speaking, this could be applied to Central and South America as well, given the game’s extreme diverse pool of players from those respective regions of the world. And sure, while many will say that football is arguably America’s “most popular” sport today and that baseball technically originated across the pond during the industrial revolution. The modernized version you see today happened here in the states back in the mid- to late-19th century.
Here in Detroit, us Tigers fans can certainly attest to what baseball means for sure. You know what they say about Opening Day downtown, “Ain’t no party like a Deeee-troit party!” No matter how good or bad the team (or the weather) is on Opening Day, fans still make a strong effort to partake in what is often a bigger party than just a baseball game.
This year, Opening Day has been bumped up a bit from its usually traditional “first Monday in April” to Thursday, March 29, marking the earliest Opening Day ever for the sport.
Here is one of two entries on our list that spans more than a day. Don’t like it? Well… too bad.
The 3+ week spectacle that is March Madness in college basketball, initiated by Selection Sunday and culminated by the Final Four and national title game, is probably the only other real American sporting event that could give the Super Bowl a run for its money.
March Madness is that time of the year where everybody and their mother and brother, regardless of if their team of choice is in the field or not, comes from out of the three-month winter shadows to fill out a bracket and pretend like they know what the hell they are talking about, many of whom will openly say that they don’t watch any regular season games because they apparently don’t matter or are not worth watching, but that’s a rant for another day.
In all seriousness, as much as I just joked about it, it’s the unpredictability and pure excitement from game to game that makes it worthwhile. I mean, the first-round games on the first Thursday and Friday are just an overload of hoops. We know most of you are watching multiple games from your office cubicle.
The tournament really makes a killing on the “David vs. Goliath” storyline as well, a smaller school from a one-bid league who celebrates getting into the dance, taking down a national title contender in the first weekend. And thus, your bracket is disposed of in your preferred manner. But that’s why they call it March Madness and it’s why we’ve made a fantasy proposal for college football to go the same route.
THE MASTERS AT AUGUSTA
Here is the second of two multi-day American sporting treasures that take place every year.
The game of golf could very well make a case for the one sport that is the “least watchable” but “most fun to play” in the eyes of the average American, or just sports fan in general. Ever since the Scots discovered it in the 15th century and brought it over here stateside, it’s been a fixture in American sports for more than 100 years.
The Masters down in Augusta that takes place the first full weekend in April is the newer of the four major golf tournaments in any given year, its first dance was way back in 1934 and outside of a three-year window from 1943-45 during World War II, they have played down at the same private country club every year for the tournament, something the other majors cannot say.
There’s just so many things that make it stick out above its peers, whether it be the awarding of a green jacket, the much more friendly and relaxed par-3 contest leading up to the first round, or having iconic golf legends hit an honorary tee shot to commence play. And like countless other links around the world, it has undergone some modifications over the years, but it is often perceived as one of if not the most visually appealing courses.
Remember what we said in the beginning? These sporting spectacles just capture the eyes of Americans even the slightest bit when they take place. The annual Daytona 500 is right there with the best of them.
The first ever race down at Daytona International Speedway took place back in 1959 and has been the kick-starter for the Nascar Cup Series for the last 35 years; going on 36 come February 18 for the latest installment. If there is ANY motor race Americans will remotely tune into, this is the one.
There are just things about it that make it stand out above the rest. Much like The Masters, it’s the first real major event in its sport for the season, whereas most other sports save the coup de grâce for the end.
It’s earned praises such as “The Great American Race” and even the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing” over the years. The average American might not be tuned in to every Nascar race throughout the year but in the middle of February when little to nothing else is going on during a Sunday afternoon, it pulls all sorts of people in to watch even if just for awhile.
- January 1 | New Years Day is a literal holiday so it can’t be included in the above but boy is it a spectacle for sports. Traditionally home to the upper echelon of college football bowl season staples like the Rose Bowl, It’s an all-day football affair between some of the best teams in the sport. Throw in occasionally lining up with the last week of the NFL season and the (since 2008) annual NHL Winter Classic outdoor game, and you have truly one of the greatest sporting dates on the calendar.
- National Signing Day | The deadline for prospective college athletes to make their final decision where to attend college has become quite the spectacle with all day shows hosted by ESPN and numerous other outlets putting 17 and 18-year-old kids under the brightest of spotlights. Many openly loathe what this day has become but it’s no accident so many people care. Forget the lazy narrative that National Signing Day only matters for a few fan bases. This is the day EVERY SINGLE UNIVERSITY IN AMERICA finalizes and makes official their student-athlete class for the year. The ramifications are impossible to overstate. It shapes the direction of every program’s future impacting the entire athletic department operation and reverberating through every campus in the country.
- Kentucky Derby | The first Saturday in May is set aside for the “Fastest and Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” The winner not only gets to strut off draped in a blanket of roses, but they complete the first leg of completing the Triple Crown. It has the lofty distinction of being the only race all non-horse racing fans are still keenly aware of.
- U.S. Open (Tennis) | Many sports fans would agree that tennis is another under-appreciated and fun sport to watch and participate in. The annual U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis, is the second oldest of the four major venues in the sport.