A sweet season for sports

The city of Peoria, Ariz., and the Peoria Sports Complex played host to Air Force Week during a 2007 spring training baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers March 21. Airmen were invited to attend and the Luke Air Force Base Honor Guard posted the colors. The Wings of Blue parachute demonstration team jumped in the game ball. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

Every year, people across America celebrate the official first day of spring, March 20. To most of us, the equinox comes with promises of longer days, warmer weather and beautiful flowers sprouting up from the ground. Spring brings with it three months of picturesque weather, transitioning us out of the depths of winter and into the freedom of summer.

If you’re a die-hard sports fan, however, spring has an entirely different meaning. Once the middle of March comes around, the sweetest part of the year for sports is in full bloom. The next three months bring the most exciting time in sports, full of opening days and championship games.

The first event that usually comes to mind for sports this time of year is the NCAA Div. I Basketball Tournament and its yearly showcase of the 68 best men’s and 64 best women’s teams in the country. During three consecutive weekends the top-dogs, underdogs, hot shots and bracket busters all duke it out for their chance to be the last team standing and bring the spirit of March Madness to life. This tournament alone packs enough entertainment for the whole season into about a week and a half of total action, seemingly ending just as quickly as it started. And while Bulldog basketball might not be taking part, there’s still plenty to root for.

March Madness only marks the beginning of the fun, though. For many sports fans, springtime means one thing—baseball’s opening day. Kirksville might be a just be a small town in northeast Missouri, but its passion for baseball stacks up against any big city, and three rival fan bases clash as they bicker about which team is best during the next six months. The Cardinals and Cubs are coming off promising 2015 campaigns, and the Royals are even better off after winning their first World Series last year.

But there’s no need to wait another week for baseball to start. Bulldog baseball and softball teams have been playing every weekend for the past month and a half, providing plenty of opportunities to catch a game and support Truman State. Both teams will play at home this weekend when baseball squares off against Drury University for a pair of doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday, while softball takes on the University of Missouri-St. Louis Sunday afternoon.

Forgot to fill out a bracket? Is baseball not your thing? Then what does springtime have to offer you in terms of sports? Only some of the most intense and heated playoff campaigns professional sports have to offer. Just a week or so after NCAA basketball champions are crowned and the MLS and MLB begins their regular seasons, two of the most exciting playoff races in all of professional sports begin — the best NBA and NHL teams try to prove their worth and put together a championship run. The NBA playoffs will feature guard Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors trying to make a run at history and dethrone the 1996 Bulls as the best team of all time, while Tim Duncan with the San Antonio Spurs and LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers will do their best to crash the party. In the NHL playoffs, left wing Alexander Ovechkin will try to break the Washington Capitals’ curse and finally get his name etched on the Stanley Cup, and a potential first round matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks could ruin some friendships at Truman before the spring semester is done.

Spring is when the weather is fine, the sun will shine and teams put it all on the line. So whether you’re a die-hard sports fan, a casual observer or feel like getting into something new, do yourself a favor and sit back, relax and enjoy.