When those who follow sports refer to the “sports world,” they are generally referring to the athletes, players, coaches and insiders who make one of the globe’s most compelling industries tick. While covering those who directly affect the outcomes of games makes sense, the sports world could not function like it does — as a parallel ecosystem of enjoyable escapism — without the fans. For the fan who simply likes to enjoy watching the world’s best athletes do their thing, the next six to eight weeks are about as compelling and entertaining as you will ever find.

While our press deadline will not allow us to comment on the exact result, if you are a sports fan, odds are pretty good that Monday you watched two of the most compelling yet under-seeded teams do battle in the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship at Jerry Jones Park. Oops! AT&T Stadium. Maybe the Cowboys will pick up on the lingering championship atmosphere from the game and do something meaningful this season … but we doubt it.

Odds are also pretty good that Aaron Harrison was invisible for most of the game but got the ball when it counted. Regardless of how the final hurrah turns out, the whole tournament has offered us some of the most entertaining games in recent memory. Single-elimination tournaments in a sport that is utterly unpredictable tend to do that.

If single elimination is too significant a margin of error for you as a fan, fear not. Only 72 hours after the nets get cut down in Texas, it will be time for one-shot elimination at the Masters.

Remember Tiger’s major championship comeback smash against the flagstick and into a watery grave at the 15th late Friday afternoon last year? Augusta National is rife with spots that should be labeled “game over” on the map.

On the other hand, the Masters is also like your favorite restaurant — that place you always go on your birthday. You make a point of not eating there often because then it would not be special. But once a year, it is as good as it gets. For some unexplainable reason that verdant acreage etched from the Georgia pines seems to make hitting a white ball with a stick look elegant and heroic at the same time. Think Adam and Ángel last year, Bubba the year before and Phil from the pines in 2010. How about any of the numerous Tiger, Jack or Arnie April afternoons that nobody who watched will ever forget?

Only three days after the green jacket is donned, one of sports’ longest and most grueling tournaments in the world gets underway — the NHL playoffs. The first round of the playoffs is generally agreed to be the cream of the crop. With fresh legs, the best teams are firing on all cylinders. Watching those first few games of playoff hockey is like watching an altogether different sport.

Another 72 hours after the first puck of the playoffs drops, the NBA will begin its postseason as well. While basketball players — with the exception of James Harden — do not grow awesome playoff beards like their NHL counterparts, the big dance of the NBA still has plenty of good storylines to serve up this year. Can LeBron and company match the Shaq-Kobe Lakers and complete the three-peat? Can the Pacers stop their recent slide? Do the San Antonio Spurs ever age?

With so many of our favorite sporting events of the year coming up it sure is lucky that we Hoyas do not have any papers or exams in the coming weeks! Oh well … once you are finished with your studying, grab a snack, an age-appropriate beverage and enjoy the most wonderful time of the sporting year.


Ethan Chess and Drew Cunningham are seniors in the College. The Third Half appears every Tuesday.

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