NFL opener marks start of sports overload for rest of 2022
By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
I committed a cardinal sin of modern workplace professionalism yesterday and missed a Zoom call with a colleague that had been agreed upon, set up and placed gently at a convenient time on my calendar.
It was entirely my fault – reminders scribbled on scraps of paper still seem to work better for me than digital denotations – but the other party was kind and reasonable and politely asked when might be a good time to reschedule.
"How about 2023?" I nearly replied, before remembering my manners.
For today marks the beginning of what can lay legitimate claim as the most frenetic period of sports we’ve ever seen. A combination of factors; expansion, rescheduling, restructuring and just the good old reality that the sporting leagues and competitions we follow don’t really subscribe to the whole less-is-more thing, mean that the remainder of the year is going to be pure, unadulterated, sporting overload.
Those lists of things that you hoped to have done by the end of the summer? If they’re not all ticked off already, punt them to January.
If anyone was silly enough to schedule a wedding past the opening weekend of this month, RSVP with your very best wishes, sincerest apologies and most imaginative excuses. Unless, of course, they have arranged the shindig for a Friday, which probably means that they are a sports diehard too, and you should absolutely turn up for their big day as a mark of solidarity.
From the moment the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills commence another NFL season at SoFi Stadium tonight, there will be 257 games of pro football across 50 separate days between now and the turn of the year, spiced up with plotlines not limited to quarterback relocations, coaching changes, a certain 45-year-old chasing ring No. 8 and redemption tales in abundance.
College football comes to the party with another 59 days of late-2022 action and approximately one gazillion games of its own, rounded down, naturally, to the nearest -illion. It offers a campaign which feels like the calm … the storm before the even bigger storm, as the sport prepares itself for geographical and structural shifts, with realignment and a greatly beefed-up playoff system on the horizon.
Throw into the winter mix the small matter of a soccer World Cup, typically staged in the quiet days of summer, but this time situated smack in the middle of the European club season, meaning (we assume) that the best in the business will come in both refreshed and in form.
That tournament, in Qatar, will be breathless by its very nature. A whirlwind schedule of 64 games in four weeks will see only three rest days (the fewest ever) and unceasing action, as a United States squad led by Christian Pulisic returns to the biggest stage for the first time in eight years.
You’re starting to get the point here, right? Everything you’ve known as a sports fan for the past few months, when the waiting has seemed incessant and the pockets of action were never quite enough to quench the competitive thirst? That’s all gone.
The next 116 days won’t allow you time to look forward to what’s coming next, because it will be difficult enough keeping up with the "now." Don’t worry, though, more is coming; not a drip-drip, but a glorious waterfall of sports gluttony.
Sports fans are sometimes accused of being selfish by the significant people in their lives, which is an outrageous and scandalous slur. What constitutes fine parenting more deftly than rescuing a young child from the mindlessness of Peppa Pig and instead opening their mind to the global wondrousness of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and teams representing 32 nations from every corner of the globe? No complaining now, Peppa, just be glad you didn’t end up on the tailgate grill.
As for adult relationships, a love of sports doesn’t need to be a romance killer, quite the opposite. What better date night could there be than World Series and chill?
On the subject of baseball, this year’s postseason sees an enlarged pool of 12 teams in contention for the biggest prize. More teams and more games, with one potential scheduling outcome that would see only two baseball-free days between Oct. 11 and the end of the World Series.
If you want to know why things are so jam-packed, you need to look no further than the mirror. This column has always been catered to those of us who think too much sports is still not enough, and commissioners, owners, schedulers and television executives long ago worked out there are millions of people for whom sports is the ultimate diversion from life.
And you don’t need a diversion from your diversion, so let’s just keep it coming.
If all of the above isn’t enough for you, then the NASCAR playoffs are underway and have zero weeks off between now and November, the NBA will feature at least one game on each of its first 20 days when it begins on Oct. 19, and tennis US Open is reaching its closing stages. All that, plus LIV Golf’s controversy, hockey’s new campaign and a whole bunch else means you and the couch may soon meld into a single entity.
Yes, it’s a lot. Yes, that’s just the way we want it.
Have I missed something? Probably. Not another Zoom call, hopefully, because that would be seriously rude.
Oh whatever, I’ll get to it next year.