When it comes to creating buzz in the offseason, no league does it better than the NFL. That said, that league doesn’t own exclusive rights on what we like to call “national holiday” offseason sporting events. There are four of them; we just passed one, and we are barreling toward another. Here are the four, as we see them:
1. National Signing Day in college football: This isn’t quite as big a deal in Minnesota as it is in a lot of other states, but it has still earned a place in the big four. Having spent time in Florida last month just before this year’s signing day — and seeing all the radio billboards trumpeting wall-to-wall coverage of signing day — I saw the thirst first hand. Even without that experience, the proliferation of recruiting websites and signing day ceremonies confirms that football signing day (right or wrong) is a huge deal.
2. NBA trading deadline: The nature of the sport, whereby one player can make a huge difference to a team, makes the NBA trading deadline a big event. This year’s deadline is Thursday, and the local conversation Tuesday was dominated by discussion of whether a trade scenario reported by Yahoo.com — J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger to the Grizzlies for Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen — makes sense for the Wolves. Barea and Budinger haven’t even been part of the Wolves’ starting lineup for most of the year, but still a potential trade makes ears perk up.
ESPN.com ran a piece with the headline, “Which tankers will be dealing,” which couldn’t have made incoming Commissioner Adam “Nobody Tanks” Silver very happy.
3. NFL draft: This is the biggest of the big, of course. The NFL has created a cottage industry around the offseason, with the upcoming scouting combine fueling months of draft speculation. You can’t click on a sports website without finding a new mock draft, and you always click on them so why would they stop? And now the draft itself is a three-day affair, and more people will watch the seventh round than will read a book this year. (OK, that’s probably not true, but still).
4. MLB trading deadline: This is like the NBA trading deadline, but even better. Hot stove talk heats up in July, at a time when other sports are in their doldrums. It’s too early to care too much about football. The NBA and NHL are in the 17 days or so of their offseasons. And regardless of whether your favorite team is buying or selling, the deadline is bound to keep you occupied and interested for days.