Under The Bleachers: There’s No Such Thing As The End Of The Season

Sports used to have seasons, but now they’re 24-7-365 enterprises.

The year on the field or the rink or the hardwood or wherever may end and a champions may be crowned, but that just means the focus then shifts to various offseason happenings that provide non-stop fodder for social media, podcasts and specialized television networks that keep these leagues in the spotlight day after day after day until training camp opens and the games start up again.

The NFL was the first to make a real push to keeping their game in the spotlight year-round, launching their own network, broadcasting the NFL Combine (on said network), turning the draft into a showcase and then stretching it over three days, including having the first round take place in prime time. Free agency is dissected six ways from Sunday and even in the quiet days between the opening swarm of signings and camps officially opening, there is a steady diet of speculation, squabbles, OTAs and all kinds of stuff that has no real value, but keeps the NFL conversation going.

“Deflategate” has turned into a seven-month ordeal. Seven months. Over the pressure of footballs.

The NBA has taken the same approach. From the network to the draft to Summer League and free agent signings, you can find experts talking hoops every day on any number of platforms, speculating about what might transpire next season two months before training camp begins. Offseason grades are pencilled in, next season’s award winners are predicted and big boards for next year’s free agent and draft classes are craft, revised, published and revised again, the process repeating itself every 7-10 days during the season.

It’s the same way with hockey here in Canada and soccer everywhere but North America, where there are definitely people that are locked into the transfer talks and the race to avoid relegation, but not in the same “talk about it all the damn time” way they are in more traditional soccer markets. There just isn’t room for non-stop, in-depth coverage of the major leagues throughout Europe because those column inches are already dedicated to a triumvirate of more established, more popular sports.

And then you have the UFC, where there is no offseason to speak of. Week after week, month after month, year after year without pause, events are announced, fighters hit the cage and the stories never stop.

It makes being a devoted fan of more than one sport challenging.

Keeping up with the moving pieces, the rumours and the real news, becomes almost impossible. Twitter has more speculation, more analysis, more scoops every time you refresh your feed and that’s just during the offseason. When the games are actually being played (or the fights are actually happening), there is even more to try and follow, but it’s becoming difficult to keep up.

I have a voracious appetite for sports and a unique ability to remember information (both useful and useless) as it pertains to players, teams, records, results and whatever else comes up during the course of a season and even I can’t keep pace any more. Some of that is because I have a job (writing amostly bout sports, primarily the UFC) and a wife and a dog and can no longer just spend every waking minute that I’m not working devouring sports news and letting where Free Agent X signed sink into my memory via osmosis like I did earlier in life, but it’s also because there is just too much to follow if you want to be a fully-informed fan.

You can still follow a ton of sports from the periphery, learning the names you hear regularly on SportsCentre and knowing how the local teams are doing without a major time commitment, but if you crave more than just cursory information, you can lose yourself in a sport pretty easily these days and it usually leads to the other leagues you used to follow (or hobbies you used to have, people you used to talk to) falling by the wayside.

It’s rough.

And don’t even get me started on what happens when you add Fantasy Sports into the mix either.

My advice: pick one, maybe two sports and follow those, but remember to keep some time set aside for other things, like going outside and experiencing the world.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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