June is here, which means we don’t have long until we reach the summer sports doldrums. However, the time period between now and then is arguably the most compelling few weeks on the entire sports calendar, with the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals taking center stage. Ultimately, the task of ranking the sports months is as subjective an exercise as there is, as personal preferences regarding individual sports carry a significant amount of weight when determining placement. But we’re going to try, regardless. So without further ado, here they are, the months of the sports calendar ranked in ascending order:
As someone with an August birthday, I can’t convince myself to put this anywhere but the bottom. By August, baseball is slogging through the post-All Star lull, as the playoff race doesn’t truly heat up until September. And while there’s preseason football to whet your appetite for physical violence, it’s hard to get too excited about a handful of drives featuring the players you actually know. (Ditto for the handful of college football games that kick off in late August, though I’m sure South Florida-San Jose State will be a classic.) The PGA Championship, the start of the major European soccer leagues, and the first few days of U.S. Open tennis help a little, and in an Olympic year, there’s a case to be made that August should be ranked, I don’t know, 10th? But by and large, August is just 31 days of waiting for September.
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Only marginally better than its summer brother August, July at least includes bigger events like the MLB All-Star Game and Wimbledon, in addition to the British Open. And NBA free agency is usually good for at least a week of drama. Like August with the Olympics, July also benefits immensely from a World Cup every few years, but that aside, there’s not a ton to get riled up about.
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Sure, the Super Bowl is in February, and the Daytona 500 is run near the end of the month — and that's a big 1-2 punch — but what do fans have to enjoy in between? The NBA’s All-Star Weekend is in need of an overhaul, and the Australian Open and the NHL’s All-Star festivities just miss the cut. Occasionally the NBA trade deadline results in some big news, and the tradition of pitchers and catchers reporting is fun. But unless it’s a Winter Olympics year, most of February is August with snow.
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Sometimes the World Series carries over into November, and when it does, it totally changes the calculus here, but overall, November is surprisingly tame considering that it features regular-season action in the NBA, NFL, NHL, college football and college basketball, in addition to the NASCAR finale at Homestead. The problem with November isn’t so much that there’s nothing to watch, but that most of what there is to watch doesn’t really matter.
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There was a time when December would have ranked higher on this list based on the strength of bowl and conference championship season alone, and there are certainly plenty of games worth watching — plus, any football is better than no football at all. But sometimes less is more, and the proliferation of bowls in recent years has resulted in a so-so early slate of matchups that can’t always be saved by the regular-season basketball and hockey that fills out the month, although the NBA’s Christmas Day marathon is typically fun. December does get a boost from the NFL’s regular-season stretch run, but overall it’s a month that looks better on paper than it actually is.
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This year’s one-sided NBA playoffs notwithstanding, May is usually chock full of riveting postseason action in the Association and the NHL, and that alone gives fans something interesting to watch virtually every night. May also includes the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Indy 500 and part of the French Open, the conclusion of the English Premier League season and sometimes features the Champions League final, as well — although this year’s tournament ends in early June. Overall, it’s a perfectly OK month, but it isn’t necessarily one of the best.
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How much you enjoy March ultimately boils down to how much you enjoy the NCAA tournament but I, for one, am a big fan, and fortunately, I’m also the one creating this list. Of course, spring training is sometimes short on excitement, the NFL Combine has become a bit overwrought and the stretch run in the NBA can be a bit of a drag, especially if your team is tanking — which seems like half the league these days. But a few weeks of subpar pro basketball is completely overshadowed by the opening weekend of the Big Dance, which could well be the most captivating four-day stretch on the entire sports calendar.
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To a degree, September is this high on the list because it marks the end of July and August, and that counts for more than you’d think. Simply put, most fans are happy to have something to cheer about. Also, by September, football is back and most fans haven’t yet lost hope for their favorite teams. Meanwhile, in baseball, late-season call-ups and the ongoing playoff race generally make things interesting. Add to that the majority of the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows — and there’s a lot to like about September.
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Football is America’s most popular game, and January is dotted not only with the most highly anticipated college bowl matchups, including the CFP championship, but also the vast majority of the NFL’s playoff excitement. That said, it’s kind of a dead zone for hockey and basketball, regular-season college hoops is becoming a tougher and tougher sell and the Aussie Open is on the bottom of the Grand Slam totem pole, which keeps January from placing higher on the list.
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April is chock full of popular and highly watchable events, from the Final Four, to the Masters, to MLB Opening Day, to the NFL Draft to the Boston Marathon to the NBA and NHL stretch run and the start of each league’s playoffs. If you can’t find something to enjoy about sports in April, maybe the problem is you.
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June has a lot going on and is the only month to feature a championship series in two of the four major sports. (And regardless of how you feel about hockey during the regular season, there’s no denying that a quality Stanley Cup Final is mesmerizing.) June also marks golf’s U.S. Open, the Champions League final (sometimes) and the NBA Draft, as well as the Belmont Stakes. Factor in part or all of a World Cup or Women’s World Cup every four years each, and you’ve got yourself a heck of a month.
Kyle TeradaUSA TODAY Sports
If you’re not much of a baseball fan, you may be wondering why October is atop the list, but for those who get it — and if you don’t, you should — the reasoning is rather obvious. The MLB playoffs are the best playoffs in pro sports, and are held almost entirely (if not completely) within the month of October. That, alone puts the month near the top of the charts, and when you consider that October is the only month to include MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and college football action, its ranking is more than justified.