KAPALKO: No ‘Blue Mondays’ for sports fans

Jamie Kapalko

Dear Dr. Cliff Arnall,

I recently read about your work, and I am pretty impressed. Who would have thought that you could calculate the most depressing day of the year by adding together bad weather, Christmas debt, failed New Year’s resolutions and a lack of motivation coupled with the acknowledgment of a need for action?

January 22, you say – “Blue Monday” – was the most depressing day of 2007. Well, with all due respect, this may fly in your home country of England, but it doesn’t make it off the ground in the United States. After all, the end of January is a time of intense fervor on this side of the pond; the entire nation looks forward to a major sporting event that we call the Super Bowl.

In fact, sir, for America’s average sports fan, I don’t think there is a “Most Depressing Day of the Year.” Our sports calendar, in fact, is nearly a masterpiece. Allow me to explain.

We’ll start in January, the supposed month of melancholy. It begins with the high-intensity series of NCAA football bowl games. After these end, the gods of football don’t just leave us floundering in withdrawal; they put the NFL playoffs center stage for most of the month. If everything were neat and clean, the Super Bowl would be at the culmination of the month, but lately it’s been trickling into February. To perfectionists like me, this is annoying, but I’ll excuse it.

Moving on to February, we have the Super Bowl. Then the sports fans’ focus turns to NCAA basketball as they begin to take mental notes for March Madness brackets. Die-hard Major League Baseball fans celebrate the beginning of spring training at the end of the month. February may seem uneventful to the casual sports viewer, but it’s actually crucial. Let us not forget that every four years the Winter Olympics dominate February, when we live and die for sports that we don’t even know exist. Cross-country skiing, anyone? Luge?

March is made for college basketball. We dedicate the month to formulating the perfect bracket and following each game, calculating the leaders of our pools and assessing our odds of winning. We can afford no distractions from these all-important tasks, so during March Madness, all other sports bow at the NCAA’s feet.

April is a potpourri of athletics. Major League Baseball season opens the month, and the NFL draft closes it. Many fans spend the month recovering from the intensity of March Madness – most of them trying to mend their broken hearts.

Luckily, sports heal all wounds, and by May we are primed for Triple Crown racing. The Kentucky Derby starts the month with a bang, followed by two weeks of speculation: will this be the year that one horse wins it all? The suspense builds for two weeks until the Preakness answers the question – usually with a disappointing “no.”

After the Belmont Stakes in early June, baseball commands the spotlight for the next few months, with Wimbledon breaking up any monotony. Tennis is a sport complemented by heat; watching Federer and Sharapova run, lunge and sweat while lying on the couch is entirely satisfying.

June hosts the NBA draft, the only appealing event in the epic NBA season. Really. It’s longer than the Odyssey, and it’s never interesting. The draft, however, is fascinating, because we get to see which college underclassmen’s gambles pay off – and when I say pay off, I mean in millions – and which ones go home and beat their heads against the wall.

Every four years, baseball shares the stage in June and July with the World Cup – the only time that the United States cares about soccer. Even many girls who don’t care about sports at all take interest in the World Cup and its time-honored tradition of post-game jersey removal.

Baseball getting boring in July? We don’t get off the couch; we just pick up the newspaper and read about the Tour de France, which spans almost the entire month, or change the channel and catch the PGA’s British Open.

NFL fans rejoice as fantasy football preparation becomes a priority in August. Every four years, we also get the Summer Olympics, when we are whipped into a frenzy by sports in the realm of water polo, fencing and table tennis.

Summer comes to a close with the tennis U.S. Open during Labor Day weekend in September, and football ushers in the fall. October is owned by baseball playoffs, and those of us in denial about the end of summer finally accept it after the World Series.

November and December belong to football, a sport perfectly matched with cold weather. All the important holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day – are marked by football games.

So, Dr. Arnall, the sports calendar is a beautiful thing. There is never a truly dull moment; there are always multiple events going on, so it doesn’t get boring. Even the most heartbroken fans, spirits leveled by a disappointing end to a season, can be mollified by the coming of something new.

The Super Bowl is coming. The end of January is exhilarating, not depressing. You can keep your formula, because I don’t think it applies to us. Thanks anyway!

Yours truly,

Jamie Kapalko

P.S. Hey, now that I think about it – you can have the NBA, too. What do you think?


Jamie Kapalko is a sophomore English major from Belmar, N.J. She can be reached at [email protected].